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UPDATED: December 24, 2014 NO. 48 NOVEMBER 27, 2014
An Internet 'Davos'
The first World Internet Conference, held in the small Chinese town of Wuzhen, hopes to bring the movers and shakers of the online world closer
By Wang Hairong

OPENING CEREMONY: The three-day World Internet Conference opens in Wuzhenn, Tongxiang City of Zhejiang Province, on November 19 (JU HUANZONG)

Wuzhen Town of Zhejiang Province is a typical southern waterfront town with rows and rows of white-walled houses reflected in the rivers running right through its center. The landscape is like a tranquil scene portrayed in traditional Chinese ink painting.

Located between Shanghai and Hangzhou, two of east China's most cosmopolitan cities, Wuzhen is said to have 7,000 years of civilized history, and has existed as a town for 1,300 years. Having been home to numerous celebrities since ancient times, it is rich in cultural relics and other tourist attractions. Today, the town has a population of 57,000.

However, on November 19, this ancient town gained a new and unlikely identity as the permanent venue of the proposed annual World Internet Conference (WIC), the first of which was held there beginning on that date and ending November 21.

President Xi Jinping congratulated the opening of the conference. He said that the Internet has turned the world into a global community, yet on the other hand, "the development of the Internet has also posed new challenges to state sovereignty, safety and development interests," and China is willing to join hands with various countries to build "a peaceful, secure, open and cooperative cyberspace and a multilateral, democratic and transparent Internet governance system."

A grand gathering

The WIC, jointly sponsored by the Cyberspace Administration of the People's Republic of China and the Zhejiang Provincial Government, was said to be a groundbreaking event for both Wuzhen and China's Internet industry.

"It is the first international Internet event held in China, the first gathering that will draw participation from the global Internet elites. It is the first panoramic showcase of the achievements of the Chinese Internet trailblazers," said Lu Wei, Minister of the Cyberspace Administration of China, at a press conference before the start of the WIC.

Lu has high expectations for the WIC. He said that it will become "an international event with a vision that will set the trend for the future's developments."

WATERFRONT TOWN: A bird view of Xizha scenic area of Wuzhen, on November 18 (XU YU)

"The WIC is not only an international platform for global communication but also offers a channel for the sharing of resources and the development of the Internet. The WIC is a platform where the international community can exchange ideas, explore possibilities and reach a consensus," he said.

Under the theme "An Interconnected World Shared and Governed by All," the first WIC consists of 13 forums on topics like Internet governance, mobile Internet, Internet security, and cross-border e-commerce.

The summit attracted more than 1,000 people including state leaders, representatives from international organizations, business executives, industrial insiders and scholars from around 100 countries.

Notable figures in the Internet industry who spoke at the conference included Fadi Chehad, President and CEO of The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (better known as ICANN), Jack Ma, lead Founder of Alibaba Group and Zhejiang Province native; Pony Ma, Core Founder and CEO of Tencent; and Reid Hoffman, the Co-founder of LinkedIn, among others.

Two-decade growth

Held on the 20th anniversary of China's connection to the World Wide Web, the WIC hopes to "showcase of the achievements of Chinese Internet trailblazers."

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