Chinese President Xi Jinping Hints About a ‘More Open’ Cyberspace

Image Courtesy: Michel Temer 

Xi Jinping, the President of China, has claimed that the restrictive cyberspace of China could now become more open.

The Chinese President said that the development of the cyberspace of his nation was “entering a fast lane” and with it, the doors of China would “only become more and more open” – even though Skype was included in the internet blacklist of the country last month.

The president’s comments were read out at the fourth annual World Internet Conference of China, where leading figures from various tech giants from the United States attended, including Sundar Pichai, the Google chief executive, for the first time.

Pichai spoke at the said forum even though the search engine has been struck by the hard-line stance of the ruling Communist Party on western apps and websites, with the likes of Twitter, Facebook, and most of the products and services of Google all banned.

Apple is one of the few major foreign firms that have a presence in China and Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, revealed during the conference that developers had earned around £12.6bn from the local version of the App Store, which represents about a quarter of global App Store takings.

In recent years, rival handsets have taken market share from the iPhone. However, Apple still considers China as its third largest region in terms of sales thanks to the country’s population of nearly 1.4bn people.

Such is the size of the population, Tencen, the biggest social media company in China, overtook Facebook in terms value in November. It is currently worth £378bn – with 500 million people making use of its WeChat messaging app.

Despite the apparent commitment of President Xi to a “more open” cyberspace, tech companies that are hoping to do business in China will be required to adapt to firmer restrictions compared to those that are imposed in the west.

China is confined to the idea of “cyber sovereignty” – giving the state the authority to manage and contain its own internet without the influence of outsiders- and the recent new rules oblige firms to locally store data and censor tools that enable the users to suppress the so-called Great Firewall.

Apple has been condemned by various rights groups for bowing to pressure that was imposed by regulators and eliminating numerous apps from the Chinese App Store.