The great vision of China's Internet is beginning to hit


Since Chinese President Xi Jinping marked the start of the first World Conference on the Internet in 2014, he was aiming to promote a new era of digital opening and to promote China as a champion of global intergovernmental governance.

The archaeologist of the forum – then-cyberspace czar Lu Wei – aggressively began to grumble the giants of US technology, leading the Chinese industry industry delegations to be brighter around Silicon Valley. In 2017, Apple Inc. Chief Executive Tim Cook and Google CEO Sundar Pichai of Alphabet Inc. took part in the Wuzhen event.

These promises now begin to fall asleep. China's Internet is more coveted than ever, Silicon Valley's efforts to enter the Chinese market remain unclear, and Lu fails in jail, awaiting trial for allegations of corruption.

This year's forum began in Wuzhen on Wednesday, two days after Xi made input comments at the new China International Import Expo in Shanghai.

Authorized representatives of the Wuzhen ride just to listen to an official – a member of the country's powerful political office – deliver Xi's comments on his behalf, repeating the promptings of previous years.

He was de facto the head of the event, Ma Huateng of Tencent Holdings Ltd., to defend China's vision – defending the country's right to influence the direction of the Internet as it grows in its role as a real technological force.

Xi was not the only leader who stayed away this year. Traditional Chief Jack Ma, President of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and the richest man in China, was a remarkable absence from the day's agenda.

In a trade war between the US and China, American technology giants – who no longer provided the persistence of the Lu era and fought on their own subjects – were largely missing. While Google sent its CEO last year, the search giant was represented by regional chief Karim Temsamani and the company said he would not speak.

"There will be unpredictable and unprecedented challenges and issues" as the global digital economy evolves, Ma said to the dealers. "China will fulfill its dream of becoming an online and technological power."

While Beijing is still haunting a role in dictating the direction of the global technology industry, many of the trendsetters – including Ma Tencent – are struggling with the unpredictable rigor of Xi's control.

Among the most visible victims of Beijing's intensified adherence is Tencent, which has not been approved for money for many months. It has shed over $ 200 billion, as the government launched a campaign against addiction and myopia among children this year.

This year's conference seemed to have surpassed the prime ambition of the government: to promote a collection of global technical minds such as Davos.

There was no list of expected visitors to be published on the website as the opening ceremony started, unlike in previous years. The highest government profile in the report on Wednesday was former Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz. The staff exceeded numbers of dealers and the media.

"At the end of the day, security is still the main concern of the Chinese government agenda," said Kitty Fok, managing director of IDC China's market research firm.

"I do not see the government opening the internet here, and what has been said three years ago, I see no improvement in censorship," he said, adding that lower executive participation could be linked to commercial tensions rather than internet suppression.

This does not mean that Silicon Valley does not carefully look at ways with the largest online and mobile industries in the world – it gets Google and its experiment on Dragonfly search censorship. Facebook continues to float test balloons. But there is a degree of "promise fatigue".

"Countries should deepen practical co-operation, make joint progress as a driving force and gain results as a goal and put a trace of mutual trust and governance to make the community of the common destiny more vivid," he said in his remarks the Xi handed over by the Huang Kunming Politburo member.

This is far from Lu's vision and the newly established Cyberspace Administration of China when they launched the first conference four years ago.