President Xi’s thoughts and little tech at China’s top internet conference
Robots powered by 5G technology and AI-driven scanners making sketchy human portraits attracted excited local guests but the 6th World Internet Conference (WIC) at Wuzhen in eastern China’s Zhejiang province wrapped up Monday evening with its profile, perhaps, marred by the absence of US online giants like Apple and Google this year.
The government-sponsored WIC is China’s leading internet forum, attended by Apple’s Tim Cook and Google’s Sundar Pichai in its earlier editions.
Cook, incidentally, was in Beijing late last week, meeting leading Chinese officials.
The companies that attended this year included China’s Alibaba Group, Baidu, Xiaomi and JD; foreign companies included Microsoft, Tesla, and Qualcomm.
Among leading Chinese entrepreneurs who attended the conference were Baidu boss Robin Li and former Alibaba chief executive Jack Ma.
Madhur Deora, president of Indian digital payment and technology company Paytm, spoke at forum on financial technology of Fintech, titled “Deep Integration and Broader Empowerment” on Sunday.
The main organiser of the event is the Chinese Cyberspace Administration of China (CYAC), which is the country’s main regulator – and censor – of its tightly controlled internet.
The WIC is held at the picturesque water town of Wuzhen with hotels built over crisscrossing canals.
Among the “leading Internet sci-tech achievements” announced at the WIC included Huawei’s Kunpeng 920 processor, Baidu’s open-source deep-learning platform Paddle Paddle and Alibaba’s cloud database POLARDB – three of China’s top companies.
Tesla unveiled a “full self-driving chip” and Microsoft’s machine reading comprehension system.
Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi’s announcement that it plans to launch more than 10 5G phones in 2020 triggered a rare buzz at the WIC.
Xiaomi leads the smartphone market in India.
CEO Lei Jun was quoted by Reuters as saying at the WIC: “People in the industry fear that next year 4G models won’t sell, this is a step you have no choice but to take. So we hope that operators can speed up their expansion of 5G base stations.”
The theme of the conference was “Intelligent Interconnection for Openness and Cooperation -- Building a Community with a Shared Future in Cyberspace,” and brought together more than 1,500 participants from over 80 countries and regions.
It was, however, essentially a show paid for and organised to showcase China’s development in the internet sector, and publicise President Xi Jinping’s thoughts and planned policies on cyberspace.
Xi’s thoughts were expounded by nearly all speakers from the Chinese government who spoke at the 20 forums, held on the sidelines.
“In 2019, guided by the Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese characteristics in the New Era, that of developing and strengthening China through internet development, in particular, the country seizes the opportunity... to accelerate the development of internet infrastructure,” the government policy book on the internet released at the WIC said.