Of­fi­cials en­cour­age nar­row­ing dig­i­tal gap world­wide

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - By CAO YIN and MA ZHENHUAN in Wuzhen, Zhe­jiang Con­tact the writ­ers at caoyin@chi­nadaily.com.cn

More than 20 min­is­te­ri­al­level of­fi­cials from home and abroad called for coun­tries to in­crease co­op­er­a­tion and im­prove tech­no­log­i­cal in­no­va­tion to ef­fec­tively bridge the dig­i­tal di­vide and to fur­ther build a com­mu­nity with a shared fu­ture in cy­berspace.

Of­fi­cials from China and 13 other coun­tries, in­clud­ing Sin­ga­pore, Nige­ria and the Philip­pines, shared sug­ges­tions on nar­row­ing the dig­i­tal gap at a min­is­te­rial fo­rum at the Fifth World In­ter­net Con­fer­ence in Wuzhen, Zhe­jiang prov­ince, on Thurs­day.

The fo­rum was hosted by China Daily and co-or­ga­nized by the China In­ter­net De­vel­op­ment Foun­da­tion, China Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions Corp and Zhe­jiang Univer­sity.

Given that in­for­ma­tion con­nec­tiv­ity serves as an im­por­tant pil­lar for mu­tual po­lit­i­cal trust, eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion and cul­tural com­pat­i­bil­ity in the in­ter­net age, the fo­rum fo­cused on nar­row­ing the dig­i­tal di­vide via eco­nomic de­vel­op­ments and in­for­ma­tion shar­ing, and pro­vided a plat­form for of­fi­cials to dis­cuss how to achieve the goal through in­ter­na­tional com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

Zhuang Rong­wen, head of China’s Cy­berspace Ad­min­is­tra­tion, said half of the world’s pop­u­la­tion still do not have di­rect in­ter­net ac­cess.

“When we push for­ward in­ter­net pen­e­tra­tion rates and in­crease co­op­er­a­tion on con­nec­tiv­ity, we should also pro­vide more fund­ing and im­prove tech­no­log­i­cal in­no­va­tion to ac­cel­er­ate build­ing of net­work in­fra­struc­ture to help bridge the dig­i­tal gap in dif­fer­ent coun­tries and re­gions,” he sug­gested.

Zhou Shuchun, pub­lisher and ed­i­tor-in-chief of China Daily, high­lighted the sig­nif­i­cance of bridg­ing the dig­i­tal di­vide amid the rapid de­vel­op­ment of the in­ter­net, say­ing the dig­i­tal gap will be nar­rowed by push­ing for­ward the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive.

“We hope the dig­i­tal silk road can be a broad road to bring ben­e­fits to coun­tries in­volved in the ini­tia­tive, help­ing some na­tions turn around their poor con­di­tions in de­vel­op­ment in bridg­ing the dig­i­tal gap,” he said.

Gao Tongqing, vice-pres­i­dent of China Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions Corp, ex­pressed hopes that the dig­i­tal di­vide could be bridged through the ini­tia­tive, not­ing it is an in­ter­na­tional way to ad­dress the is­sue.

As a coun­try ben­e­fit­ing from co­op­er­a­tion, Shahzad Gul Ary­obee, Afghanistan’s min­is­ter of com­mu­ni­ca­tions and in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy, said his coun­try ap­pre­ci­ates China’s ef­forts in cre­at­ing dig­i­tal con­nec­tiv­ity to boost mu­tual trust and col­lec­tive gov­er­nance, “as it can best con­trib­ute to a com­mu­nity with a shared fu­ture in cy­berspace”.

He added that his na­tion is plan­ning to con­nect the Wakhan dig­i­tal cor­ri­dor to en­hance re­gional con­nec­tiv­ity to ex­pand the dig­i­tal econ­omy in the area with the mu­tual co­op­er­a­tion of China.

ZOU HONG / CHINA DAILY

Shan Jix­i­ang, di­rec­tor of the Palace Mu­seum, speaks about dig­i­tal­iz­ing the mu­seum’s re­sources at a min­is­te­rial fo­rum at the Fifth World In­ter­net Con­fer­ence in Wuzhen, Zhe­jiang prov­ince, on Thurs­day.

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