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Xi looks to a nation of cyberpower

Updated: 2014-02-28 00:41
By ZHAO LEI and CAO YIN ( China Daily)

President urges efforts to boost security on Internet, development of technologies

President Xi Jinping pledged on Thursday to strengthen China's Internet security and build the nation into a strong cyberpower.

He made the remarks during the first meeting of a central Internet security and informatization leading group, which he heads.

Premier Li Keqiang and senior official Liu Yunshan are deputy heads.

Xi said Internet security concerns a country's security and development as well as people's lives and work.

The group is designed to lead and coordinate Internet security and informatization work among different sectors, as well as draft national strategies, development plans and major policies in this field, Xi said.

Informatization refers to the extent by which a geographical area, an economy or a society is becoming information-based.

Xi said China has the world's largest number of Internet users, but still lags in development of Internet technologies.

The digital gap between rural and urban areas remains large and the average bandwidth enjoyed by Chinese is far less than that in some developed countries.

By the end of 2013, China said it had some 618 million Internet users, but that only 28.6 percent of them lived in the countryside.

Xi called for efforts to boost the development of key technologies and the allocation of more resources in infrastructure construction.

He requested more favorable policies for Internet technology enterprises to enable them to innovate.

The making of laws and regulations governing online activities must be speeded up, he said.

He vowed to promote international cooperation and training of world-class Internet scientists, engineers and programmers.

Chinese Internet companies have a market value of more than $300 billion, official statistics show.

But the nation is a major victim of criminal activities in cyberspace, and up to 3,000 government websites have been hacked, according to the National Computer Network Emergency Response Technical Team Coordination Center of China.

From Feb 10 to 16, more than 690,000 computers in China were infected with Internet viruses, up by 19.4 percent compared with the previous week, while 280 new safety loopholes were exposed during the same period, five times more than the previous week, the center said in its latest online safety report.

The risks to China's cybersecurity were highlighted in January following a large-scale attack that resulted in Chinese users being unable to visit websites with domain names of .com and .net.

Although the attack was thwarted within hours, it spurred experts to reflect on whether China is ready for a possible Internet war, and to suggest that the government learn from other countries' experience.

The United States launched a cybercommand for its armed forces in 2009 to deal with the military's cyberspace operations.

The US Department of Homeland Security also has an Office of Cybersecurity and Communications that is responsible for "enhancing the security, resilience and reliability of the nation's cyber and communications infrastructure".

Britain drew up its first Internet security strategy in 2009 and set up government offices to coordinate cybersafety issues.

Yang Shuo, a specialist with a decade of experience in cybermanagement, spoke highly of the establishment of the leading group, saying it is a "must" to highlight Internet security.

He said the good news about favorable policies and improving laws or regulations is timely for technology enterprises awaiting government support.

Zhou Yonglin, secretary-general of the online and information security committee under the Internet Society of China, said technology companies and government departments monitoring the Internet will enjoy better cooperation if the laws are revised to be more specific and detailed.

Informatization can only be achieved if the government is able to secure the safe operation of cyberspace, he said.

The founding of the leading group shows the central government is willing to voice its concerns about Internet security and also indicates the determination to build mutual trust with other countries, Zhou said.

Contact the writers at zhaolei@chinadaily.com.cn and caoyin@chinadaily.com.cn