Wuzhen Outlook 2018
The 5th World Internet Conference(WIC) was held in Wuzhen, Zhejiang province, China, from Nov 7 to 9, 2018. The number of WIC participants was about 1,500, including government delegates from 76 countries and regions, international organizations' representatives, industry leaders, and renowned experts and scholars. The conference's overarching theme was "Creating a Digital World for Mutual Trust and Collective Governance — Towards a Community with a Shared Future in Cyberspace". The participants engaged in in-depth exchange of ideas and discussions, and shared their practical experience of promoting innovation-driven development, cybersecurity, cultural exchange, people's well-being, and international cooperation.
Based on an analysis of the current situation and the Internet's future, the High-level Advisory Council of the World Internet Conference Organizing Committee has reached the following rough consensus on the current trends in, and the outlook for, the global Internet's development and governance:
1. The pace of IT innovation accelerated and narrowing the digital divide is an urgent task.
Internet and information technologies, such as advanced network, supercomputing, high-end storage, and intelligent perception, are entering a new stage of transformation. Cutting-edge technologies, innovative applications, and new industry formats keep emerging in large numbers and business models get more mature, thereby accounting for a greater fraction of the higher total factor productivity. ICT's integration with the brick and mortar economy has been on the rise, with intelligent manufacturing, automatic driving and other applications no longer being a nascent technology. IPv6, 5G and high-throughput satellites are all developing rapidly. The framework of a next generation broadband network has been shaped, featuring high rate, high capacity, ubiquity, space-ground integration, and intelligent perception. The accelerated expansion of the basic telecommunications has taken place worldwide. By the end of June 2018, the global Internet penetration rate reached 54.4 percent, with the respective figures varying between 95 percent and 36.1 percent across different parts of the world.
Facing the rapid expansion of the information revolution, the international community should adopt more proactive policies to narrow the digital divide among countries, regions, and strata. We should promote the application of the Internet in core public service areas, such as education, medical care, and should further employ the Internet to alleviate poverty. We should strengthen cooperation in promoting global inter-connectivity at the network infrastructure level. We should bolster global and regional cooperation in multiple areas through various channels and improve digital technology and services while promoting balanced economic and social development. We should strengthen the global exchange and cooperation on the innovation front, focus on cutting-edge technology, and more closely collaborate in the R&D sphere to enable new breakthroughs in information technology for the benefit of the mankind.
2. Cultural exchanges through the Internet deepen and innovation and creativity rest on a high level of responsibility and trust.
The Internet is an important medium to nurture and spread mankind's fine cultures, and to promote positive energy. The process of the creation of digital cultural content in cyberspace has gained traction, while the advent of artificial intelligence, virtual reality, the next-generation Internet, and other technologies has given rise to the emergence of large numbers of new cultural business models. The enhanced protection of intellectual property rights provides a more sustainable source of support for the creation and production of cultural content in cyberspace. The Internet empowers cultural services in all countries, while global Internet users increasingly demand high-quality cultural products and services, and constantly improve their end-user experience. An accelerated employment of voice recognition and translation software should engender a more vigorous online cultural exchange among countries. The intense use of the Internet has given a new impulse to the exchanges and integration between the traditional culture and the modern one, and between the national cultural and international culture. Thus, the cyberspace is fulfilling the long-standing dream of a single home for the mankind.
Cultural and digital content in cyberspace will enter a period of rapid growth. Inspired and promoted by the Internet and virtual reality, literature, video, drama, animation, and music are now preparing to enter their acme. Meanwhile, the disruptive innovation on the Internet challenges the global civilization in terms of thoughts, ethics, and cultural diversity. The protection of youth and other vulnerable population groups' interests online has increasingly become a global concern. The international community should work together to encourage cybercultural innovation, promote a further convergence of science and technology with culture, produce healthier and higher-quality cultural products, and generate a positive cultural environment in cyberspace for Internet users, and the young generation in the first place.
3. The digital economy is flourishing and there is a great potential for digital dividends.
The global digital economy is developing fast, and the world is entering a period of economic development led by information technology. The global digital economy's value hit $12.9 trillion in 2017. The e-commerce market has continued to sustain a rapid growth, with retail sales worldwide having amounted to a stunning $2.3 trillion. New industries, businesses, and business models kept emerging in large numbers. Big data, cloud computing, Internet of Things, and artificial intelligence have been on a steady rise. In 2017, the global market for semiconductors and cloud computing services reached $412.2 billion and $260.2 billion respectively. Traditional industries undergo rapid digitalization and the global manufacturing quickly marches toward an intelligence era. The service sector sees a precipitous change in production patterns and in the convergence with digital technology. This propels further advancement of new businesses and operational models, such as the sharing economy, digital health, and Industrial Internet.
Advancement of the digital economy became a key metrics for sustainable development. A new driver and engine for the global economic progress, the booming digital economy should further promote fundamental changes in the quality and efficiency of the economic development process. Inspired by the innovative, cooperative, and mutually beneficial nature of the digital economy, the international community should work the way towards a genuine consensus on eliminating trade protectionism, structural imbalances, and adverse effects on employment; and also on economic cooperation, and governance and regulatory mechanisms in the digital sphere. The international community should vigorously adapt to the digital revolution, promote international cooperation in expanding the digital economy, foster an open and mutually beneficial digital market, strengthen policy coordination, promote the rule of law, and create an institutional environment conducive to sustainable development in order to ensure the global socio-economic development.
4. Trust and cooperation must be strengthened in response to increasing cybersecurity risks.
Cybersecurity has had an increasing impact on international peace and security. Cybersecurity challenges have been on the rise globally, with cyberattacks, data breaches, the use of malware and ransomware, and other problems cropping up. The number and scale of cybersecurity incidents tend to grow, and cyberattacks on the critical information infrastructure have become more intense. Illegal activities, such as cyber fraud and theft, and privacy infringement have become routine worldwide. Security of big data is becoming a grave challenge. In the first half of 2018 alone, over 2,300 instances of data breaches were reported and approximately 2.6 billion user records were illegally disclosed, and large Internet companies'data security incidents became an international concern. Cybersecurity competition and controversies between countries have intensified, which further jeopardizes peace and stability in the cyberspace. The international community has made multiple moves to promote cybersecurity legislation, upgrade data protection capabilities, and work together to combat cybercrime in order to respond to the threats.
It can be ascertained that in the short to medium run, the global cybersecurity situation would remain increasingly complex, for as a double-edged sword, new technology is poised to give rise to new cyber incidents that would add to an adverse impact of political, economic, social, cultural, and military risks. The international community should work on a concept of collaborative cybersecurity, let the United Nations continue to play an important role, and encourage all the legitimately interested parties, including governments, international organizations (and, inter alia, international and regional standards development organizations), Internet companies, the technical community, nongovernmental institutions, and individuals to contribute thereto. The global community should establish a coordinated and effective cooperation to promote trust, strengthen international cooperation to protect critical information infrastructures, crack down on cyberterrorism and cybercrime in accordance with the national and international law, raise Internet users' awareness of cybersecurity and upgrade their ability to protect themselves, and explore the establishment of a new and collaborative cybersecurity mechanisms and frameworks in an evolving cybersecurity environment.
5. The cyberspace governance framework will continue to evolve and the shared governance system must be improved.
With the advent of new technologies and applications that keep engendering new demands and challenges, the international cyberspace governance which has gradually developed from a merely technical issue into a holistic one, is destined to further evolution. Having put security and stability on top of their current cyberspace governance agenda, countries are seeking countermeasures via the practice of national management and international cooperation, and exploring prospects for new global rules and norms for cyberspace while respecting nations' sovereignty in cyberspace. However, the evolution of the global cyberspace governance has not been a linearly even process as it was responding to the changes of international relations and the development differences among variant countries. Carrying forward the spirit of the World Summit on Information Society(WSIS) Forum and the Internet Governance Forum(IGF), the World Internet Conference, like other international fora, constitutes an important global platform for communication on bridging divides, pooling wisdom, promoting mutual trust, and improving the Internet governance system shared and governed by all. The World Internet Conference should benefit the world on its way towards the building of a community with a shared future in cyberspace.
At this crucial junction, it's the common aspiration of the international community to improve the global Internet governance mechanisms. However, anti-globalization trends and unilateral practices have tended to undermine the credibility of the concept and institutions of collaborative cyberspace governance. At the same time faulty institutions and lack of efficacy make it increasingly urgent to promote innovation in the international cyberspace governance domain. All of these are depriving the cyberspace's development of the much-needed momentum. The international community should work far more closely to deepen strategic mutual trust, improve the governance mechanisms and promote the implementation of rules in order to improve the global Internet governance process to reach a new stage.
Mutual trust fuels cooperation, and a genuinely collaborative governance is a pillar of a brighter future. As Internet-driven innovation and progress should continue to change the world, cyberspace calls for further exploration, with the focus on the mankind's well-being in the first place and building a community with shared future in cyberspace being the ultimate objective. Underlying the process should remain equality and respect, innovation and development, openness and sharing, security and orderliness, as well as a deepened international exchange and cooperation in cyberspace.
We are pleased to see the World Internet Conference enter its fifth year and play an increasingly important role in promoting global Internet development and governance, seeking common ground while appreciating diversity, and striving to build consensus around the fundamental values and principles. We hope that the Conference will, along with other international platforms, keep promoting innovation and creativity fueled by the Internet, increasing online exchange and cooperation, responding to cybersecurity challenges, and intensifying international cyberspace governance. We look forward to the whole international community's collaborative governance efforts to build a digital world based on mutual trust and a splendid future of human civilization.