Tang Xujun: Internet Governance Affects the Development of New Media
Created On : 2018-07-12    Views : 41

The China New Media Development Report (2018) Press Conference & New Media Development Seminar was held recently. Tang Xujun, member of the Academic Committee of Shanghai Academy shared his views about how Internet governance will affect the development of new media.

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Tang Xujun said, new media is a new application based on the Internet and mobile Internet. Improper Internet governance will exert huge influence on the development of new media.

In 2017, the influence of China’s new media communication was interpreted in three aspects. First, construction of a community of shared future in cyberspace was proposed to help transform the global communication order. Second, Internet enterprises expanded their overseas presence and demonstrated China’s network development concepts and achievements. Third, new media diplomacy and international cooperation was harnessed to help improve the external communication about Chinese wisdom, such as the “Belt and Road” initiative.

Building a community of shared future was advocated by Xi Jinping, General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee. The Information Divide appears as developed and developing countries have a varying pace of informatization. In September 2017, the UN released the broadband conditions of the year, highlighting the increasingly wide gap between developed countries and developing countries in the rate of Internet penetration. China’s proposal for building a community of shared future in cyberspace is a practical plan intended to ease the imbalance in Internet development across the globe and to create a good cyberspace order. Therefore, “a community of shared future” has been written into the resolutions of the United Nations many times.

China advocates the values of “balanced and inclusive development”. The 4th World Internet Conference held last year was themed “Developing the Digital Economy for Openness and Shared Benefits – Building a Community of Common Future in Cyberspace”. That demonstrated China’s philosophy about participating in global Internet governance and its determination to promote international cooperation and the sharing of results, and to achieve openness, inclusiveness, and equality in the global Internet. New media is a new application based on the Internet and mobile Internet. Improper Internet governance will exert huge influence on the development of new media. This year's widespread concern is that US President Trump has killed net neutrality rules, which may bring new problems in Internet governance.It is also a focus that we should pay attention to this year. We may do some research on that in next year’s New Media Blue Book. Building a community of destiny of the Internet as a value that promotes balanced and inclusive development, advocates that more countries have autonomy of culture and information dissemination, and it provides alternative rules and programs for the resolution of inherent differences and monopolies in global communication. Internet companies have accelerated their overseas presence and demonstrated the concept and achievements of China’s network development. The “Belt and Road” Initiative, and the concept of building a community of shared future and other efforts have enabled Chinese internet companies to accelerate the development of globalization through overseas distribution, and to demonstrate the advanced technology, management and development concepts and various product types of China’s Internet sector during the construction abroad. In practice it, tells the story of China’s Internet development, the story of China’s science and technology development, and the story of China’s rise, and enhances China’s role and influence in the international community. Chinese internet companies have accelerated the layout and development of overseas investment, reflecting the sharing of Internet development results with the world and China’s determination to benefit the world with its achievements in Internet development.

A couple of examples: in November 2016, Baidu Map officially completed the coverage of 209 countries and regions of the globe and strengthened the cooperation with the China National Tourism Administration. Now people traveling abroad can use Baidu Map in the abovementioned 209 countries and regions via their mobile phone; in April 2017, Baidu released the “Apollo Plan”, to accelerate the progress of autonomous driving technology globally via open source sharing; in January 2018, Alibaba Cloud cooperated with Malaysian authorities to solve traffic management problems via Artificial Intelligence technology; in April 2018, Tencent Cloud (Thailand) Data Center officially opened to the public to provide Thailand and its surrounding areas with cloud computing services. These are specific examples of China’s Internet enterprises going global to offer Internet infrastructure abroad.

New media diplomacy and international cooperation on communication helped improve the external communication about Chinese wisdom, such as the “Belt and Road” initiative. New media diplomacy served as a new form of media diplomacy under the conditions of new communication technology, and could play a vital role in both government diplomacy and public diplomacy by means of the Internet, mobile Internet, AI, big data and so on. New media diplomacy advocates the role of multiple bodies, particularly the think tank-based new media platform and social media. Mainstream media accelerated its layout of external communication in this regard. For example, last year, the People's Daily English language client went online; the main account of China Radio International new media operated on YouTube, the world’s largest online video site, achieving a click through rate exceeding 300 million unique views; Xinhua News Agency’s English language client was officially launched to offer a new channel for international communication. As social media is accessible by every ordinary person, so it provides new channels for people-to-people diplomacy and public diplomacy.

Regarding future development, Tang shared 10 prospects and eight suggestions.

Ten prospects

I. The digital economy has led digital China to embark on a new journey. According to statistical data, China saw an ICT development index of 5.6 in 2017, which is higher than the global average, indicating that China is one of the world’s ten fastest-growing countries. The digital economy has promoted China's economic growth and has become an important force in leading digital China. China should take digital construction as an overall planning platform to speed up the pace of building a strong network, and promote the integration of the Internet and digital technology with economic and social development. 

II. The Artificial Intelligence enterprises have risen rapidly, and the intelligent inter-connection and IoE have accelerated. 5G has entered a key stage of international standard development. According to news from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, China will launch its 5G terminal with demonstration and application functions in the second half of 2019 at the earliest, and produce the first batch of 5G mobile phones in the second half of 2019. IoE will soon come with intelligent hardware as a breakthrough. In the wake of the development in AI algorithms, intelligent voice, computer vision, intelligent driving and other fields, AI enterprise will rise rapidly. That is a development trend.

III. The evaluation of the systematic innovation and development of media convergence will continue to be standardized. The strategic development of media convergence has entered its fifth year and systematic innovation becomes a focus; traditional media will face more challenges under the impact of technology; the suspension, restructuring and regional integration of print media will continue; in the process of integration and development, we should still adhere to the Internet thinking, adhere to the priority of mobility and intelligence, and insist on giving priority to quality content.. During the practice of converged development, more evaluation indexes and systems on the development of new media and media convergence have been produced. We need to develop more scientific, more universal, and more objective indexes on this basis.

IV. China wisdom like the “Belt and Road” initiative will continue to promote the upgrading of China’s international communication capacity. The year 2018 is the fifth anniversary of the “Belt and Road” initiative”. We should make good use of the important time node of our major home diplomacy events to upgrade our international communication capacity. Though China has made certain progress and achievements in external communication, there are still certain gaps between the cognitive need of the international community and the realistic needs of China’s external communication. We should take advantage of the new approaches and new ways such as micro-communication and micro-diplomacy to upgrade China’s soft strength.

V. WeChat and Weibo have developed robustly, and Toutiao emerged unexpectedly. The number of WeChat’s monthly active users worldwide exceeded 1 billion during the Spring Festival of 2018 for the first time; the number of Sina Weibo’s active users hit 392 million by December 2017, increased by 79 million on a YOY basis. In 2017, Weibo realized total revenues of RMB7.713 billion, up 76%, creating a new high since it was launched. Weibo’s advertising revenue was RMB6.682 billion, up 57% on a YOY basis. Depending on its product chain consisting of news client, short video, and knowledge payment products, Toutiao enjoys strong developmental momentum.

VI. Engage in Internet content construction and prevent the risks of network thinking by strengthening the guidance on online public opinions. In 2017, the construction of a mainstream discourse system had made great achievements and awareness of position has been continuously enhanced. At the same time there were also risks that network thought would deconstruct mainstream ideology. The top priority of Internet content construction was to firmly guide the direction of public opinions properly and improve the capability of public opinion guidance in an all-round way. We expect that the management this year and in the coming years will be fully implemented on the basis of the various regulations issued intensively last year.    

VII. Content value continues to return, and content payment has become a new hotspot for profit growth of the new media. It seems to be particularly precious to present a report with objective facts and in-depth information in the post-truth era. Not only in the new media field, but also in any new media product area, the value of content cannot be ignored. With the increasingly-expanded public opinions on content payment, knowledge IP, leaders continued to emerge, and short video and audio becomes a main product form of the content payment industry. However, how to ensure the high click ratio of knowledge payment products will become an important issue. We expect that this year and in the coming years, some new forms will emerge in the knowledge payment field.

VIII. Government affairs new media continued to realize self-integration, and its functions are gradually realized and standardized. After the state advocated Internet + government services and the connection and sharing of government resources, it is foreseen that the functions of government new media nationwide will become more completed, the information barriers between different departments will be gradually broken through, and government online services will become more convenient. Upon preliminary completion of the platform construction, improvement in the efficiency and quality of government services is urgently needed. 

IX. As the individual commercial value of users was activated, the social products represented by “social commerce” became a new power. According to the data from iiMedia Research, in 2017, the number of China’s social retail users hit 223 million, up 46.7% from 2016. It’s predicted that by 2020, the number will increase to 573 million. The e-commerce model employed by enterprises such as Pinduoduo.com, Xiaohongshu.com, youzan.com and yunjinet.com effectively solves the problem of traditional e-commerce access to traffic. Centering on trust and interpersonal relationship, product and platform promotion is conducted by fully mining the value of individual users and the user community. Social e-commerce gives rise to new retail and fully plays the core function of socializing. The socialized products represented by social e-commerce will continue to grow via small apps and other social media platforms.

XI. The trend of Internet governance still features strict management and tight control, so network security is critical. According to the 2017 Report on China’s Internet Network Security Situation released by the National Computer Network Emergency Response Technical Team/Coordination Center of China (known as CNCERT/CC) in 2018, by evaluating and inspecting the network security of more than 1,000 Internet finance websites in 2017, CNCERT/CC found that such websites had more than 400 high-risk security holes and substantial risks of user private data disclosure. By selectively inspecting the Internet finance-related mobile Apps, CNCERT/CC found that there were over 1,000 security holes that posed a serious threat to data security and transfer security of Internet finance. There is no national security without network security. It is imperative to effectively guarantee the national data security, strengthen new media users’ individual information protection, and promote the global Internet governance cooperation to promote the building of a community of shared future in cyberspace. We expect that that’s also what we should do in the following one to two years.

Eight suggestions

I. Give full play to new media and make in-depth publicity of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era and the spirit of 19th CPC National Congress, innovate the publicity of the achievements in all sectors in the past 40 years of reform and opening up via new media, regard digital economy as a major driver of economic and social growth, insist on independent innovation, and advance the construction of network power, Digital China and a smart society.

II. Take advantage of the fifth anniversary of the “Belt and Road” Initiative to improve external communication, make great efforts to strengthen the capacity of setting key issues for new media, promote the construction of a new media discourse system bridging China and the West, deepen global cooperation and communication on new media, and concentrate our efforts on playing the strategic guidance role of head-of-state diplomacy in international communication. 

III. Strive to develop the R&D and application of AI technology, use big data to upgrade the modernization level of national governance, improve and perfect the network intellectual property right protection system and digital property right protection system, advance core technology breakthroughs in the information field, and make good use of new communication technologies to facilitate the poverty alleviation program and accelerate improvement of the ecological environment.

IV. Speed up the internal restructuring and cross-border interconnection of traditional media organizations, improve media convergence–related supporting mechanisms, standardize and scientifically evaluate the effectiveness of media integration work, pay more attention to the realization of the social, professional, and intellectual information products of new media, and continue to regulate the development of the short video and audio streaming industry.

V. Improve the comprehensive management capability of the network, give full play to the multi-body function of international cyberspace governance, punish new cyber crime severely, continue to propose China’s program on issues concerning global Internet governance, persist with advancement of the building of a community of shared future in cyberspace, and promote China’s informatization and the sharing of Internet construction achievements.

VI. Explore new release and communication mechanisms for news information, focus on avoiding new media information reduction and prevention, as well as the echo chamber effect, emphasize the importance of new media sources, step up the advancement of talents in hi-tech media, and pay attention to the capital group’s influence over China’s network new media. 

VII. Strengthen network variety shows’ functions in the inheritance and popularization of Chinese culture, reshape the communication philosophy and practice of excellent traditional Chinese culture via new media thinking, promote digital reading, and add new weapons for online copyright protection.

VIII. Reinforce the construction of the right to have discourse with and guide the new media, innovate the construction mode and methods of China’s international communication via new media diplomacy, enhance the brand power and influence of China’s new media think tanks, and tell the story of China’s network development well. 

(Tang Xujun is a member of the Academic Committee of Shanghai Academy)