China reinforces controlled Internet vision at Web conference

Country’s digital overseer calls for cyberspace that ‘always follows the rule of law’

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China reinforces controlled Internet vision at Web conference Lu: Cyberspace should also be free and open, with rules to follow and always following the rule of law. (Getty Images)
By  Stephen McBride Published  November 25, 2014

The Chinese government last week used a national Internet conference to argue for a controlled cyberspace that "always followed the rule of law", Reuters reported today.

Chinese officials and global technology companies such as Tencent, Apple, Facebook and Qualcomm, gathered in the town of Wuzhen, about 75 miles southwest of Shanghai, at the country's first World Internet Conference (WIC), to hear Lu Wei, director of the Cyberspace Administration of China, call for strict control of the Web.

"This place [Wuzhen] is crowded with tourists, who are perfectly orderly," he remarked during his keynote address. "Cyberspace should also be free and open, with rules to follow and always following the rule of law."

While some saw China's hosting of the event as a step forward, the Asian giant's tight control of media was also evident at the event. Journalists were not permitted to ask questions, as per the WIC's own media handbook, which said, "Please do not ask questions to guests during sessions in order not to cause disturbances."

Reuters also reported that one panel discussion was filmed entirely without audience participation, after which state media were filmed addressing "empty chairs on a podium".

"China has made, at the top level, a decision that it needs to be part of a global Internet," said Fadi Chehade, president and chief executive of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, the US non-profit body that currently manages IPs for the Internet.

"China is also telling the world...'We're no longer going to be bystanders in how the Internet is governed'," Chehade said.

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