Chinese President Xi Jinping will be attending the upcoming World Internet Conference, the government announced Wednesday, as it emphasized China's determination to manage the Internet via the rule of law, with illegal and unfriendly content subject to a definite ban.
Xi is expected to deliver the keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the conference, scheduled between December 16-18 in Wuzhen, in East China's Zhejiang Province.
More than 2,000 delegates from over 120 countries and regions will participate in the conference, with foreign guests accounting for roughly half.
Conference participants include the prime ministers of Russia, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, as well as senior officials from the United Nations, Apple, Microsoft, Nokia, Lenovo, Alibaba, Baidu and Tencent.
Lu Wei, head of the Cyberspace Administration of China, said at a press conference in Beijing on Wednesday that by holding the World Internet Conference, China hopes to "build a multilateral, democratic, transparent international Internet governance system that will better benefit the whole world."
Divide on Internet management
China's World Internet Conference, with its 2015 theme "An Interconnected World Shared and Governed by All - Building a Community of Common Future in Cyberspace," remains controversial in the West as the country continues to block websites such as Google, Facebook and Twitter.
Both sides also hold vastly different opinions on how the Internet should be managed, with China believing that Internet sovereignty should be respected and cyberspace should be multilateral - ruled by different governments - while the US believes the management should be left to large Internet firms with little government interference, said Fang Binxing, former president of the Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications and an academician at the Chinese Academy of Engineering.
Defending the Chinese government's Internet policy, Lu said Wednesday the blockage is like "a family that does not welcome unfriendly visitors."
"Those who have made money in China but are bristling at Chinese people are not welcome," Lu said. He said the country is exploring an Internet management path with Chinese characteristics, which fundamentally means administrating the Internet through law.
He said China's websites do delete unlawful information, and the government also occasionally asks the websites to trace and remove certain posts if they violate laws, infringe upon other people's lawful rights, or harm young people.
Analysts said the difference between China and the West in cyber management will remain at the center of a broad debate both during and after the conference, but noted the meeting could help bridge the gap between the two sides.
"The conference is not meant to be confrontational … It should be a platform for Western Internet professionals to learn about how Chinese society views the Internet," said Zhang Yiwu, a Peking University professor who was invited as a guest speaker to the upcoming conference.
Zhang believes that contentions aside, the conference serves a bigger purpose. "From the perspective of global civilization … China wants to be part of Internet rule-making. It wants to participate in the development of cyberspace and the human race. It wants to make its unique sound and let that sound be heard," Zhang noted.
Ready to cooperate
President Xi did not attend the first Internet conference in November last year. In a message sent to last year's conference, Xi said China is ready to work with other countries to deepen international cooperation, respect sovereignty on the Internet and uphold cyber security.
In his February address to the first conference of the Central Leading Group of Cyberspace Affairs, Xi said that the government aims to build China into a "strong Internet power."
The conference will address topics about cyber security, Internet cultural transmission, Internet innovation, digital economy, Internet technology standards and cyberspace management.