Stimulating New Online Media to Shape an Objective and Rational Online Ecology

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This article by SIIO vice-director Ren Xianliang was published in Red Flag Manuscripts on 9 June. It mainly takes stock of the development of broad trends online, and identifies challenges to be overcome. Specifically, it points to the development of new models of communication and information management, as well as the development of new online activities such as banking, as opportunities to be exploited as well as challenges to be managed. Furthermore, it identifies cybersecurity as a necessary component of further Internet development, referring to the establishment of the Central Leading Group for Cybersecurity and Informatization earlier this year. In terms of steps forward, it continues the emerging discourse of strengthening top-level design, strengthening norms and standards, and relying on the industry and citizens themselves to play an important role in developing an organic “network ecology”. Ren implies that the crackdown which started next year and has continued hitherto may become the new normal. In other words, we can expect continued harsh action against critical voices and potential risks, while the commercial development of the industry will be stimulated.

Ren Xianliang

Abstract: Even thought there are differences in international society on how to manage the Internet, the attitude of “the Internet needs stronger governance” is consistent. No country can permit the Internet to become a “land outside the law”. The Centre has decided to establish higher-level Internet management organs, which expanded top-level design strength, rationalized and integrated online governance structures, realistically upgraded new media application levels and governance levels, and promoted the shaping of an objective and rational online ecology from the height of modernizing the country’s governance capacity.

This year is the 20th year since China gained access to the international Internet. In 20 years, the information technology revolution has brought something new every day, Internet applications and innovations emerge one after another, they have rapidly merged into every aspect of society, and have promoted China’s economic and social development to an unprecedented depth and breadth, and changed people’s production and living methods. At present, China’s Internet development is showing new tendencies, which merit research.

I, The new trends of network development.

Wu Hequan, an academic with the Chinese Academy of Engineering has described the development of China’s Internet for the last 20 years as follows: “We have bypassed the PC era where computers were central and figures were the main interface, we have bypassed the network era in which software was central, we have reached the cloud computing age where data is central, we have reached the era of the Internet of things in which applications are central and the Internet is fundamental”. Scientific and technological development and innovation is boundless, the new business models and new trends in the Internet era are numerous. At present, our country’s Internet development mainly has the following new characteristics:

1. Big data, cloud computing, the Internet of things and other new-generation Internet technologies will profoundly change economic development methods, and production and life methods.

Informatization has become a strong driver for the promotion of economic and social transformation, the realization of sustainable development and the upgrading of a country’s comprehensive competitiveness worldwide. As the clearest symbol of informatization, the Internet has entered the era of big data, cloud computing and the Internet of things. Through more than twenty years of rapid development, our country has developed into a large country of new Internet technology and applications: the number of netizens exceeds 600 million, ranking number one globally; there are 4 million websites, and we are only second to the US in the quantity of website visits; there are 1.2 billion mobile phone users, and the number of mobile network users exceeds 800 million.

After the 18th Party Congress, General Secretary Xi Jinping clearly pointed out: “without informatization, there is no modernization”, and “promote industrialization, urbanization and the modernization of agriculture through informatization”. A while ago, the “National New Urbanization Plan (2014-2020)” was promulgated, into which intelligent cities were written. This is both a major plan that is related to the future of the country and the fate of its cities, and is an important handhold for our country’s sustainable and healthy economic development. On the one hand, the rapid move ahead with urbanization has provided a broader space for the development of China’s Internet; on the other hand, cloud computing, the Internet of Things, big data and other such informatization technologies will see accelerated innovation and gain wide application in this process, providing powerful driving support to optimize the composition of future cities. Intelligent cities are a high-level stage of urban informatization, and represent the development trends of future urbanization. To live in intelligent cities, intelligent traffic systems can help you chose the best route, long-distance healthcare systems can allow you to enjoy treatments at home, intelligent domestic servers are able to provide the most reasonable health suggestions on the basis of temperature, humidity, body temperature and other indications. The realization of these functions is inseparable from big data, is inseparable from cloud computing, and inseparable from the Internet of Things, it may be said that intelligent cities are the organic integration of the real world and the digital world. In more than 20 cities in our country, intelligent city demonstration point work has begun, by 2025, government investment in intelligent cities promises to exceed 2 trillion Yuan, which will rapidly drive the accelerated growth of related industrial chains and enterprises, foster new converged industrial forms across areas, and create 4 million job opportunities.

Big data is not equal to “big amounts of data”, but it is cross-sectoral, comprehensive, dynamic and meaningful data. Some people say that big data is the “gold” of the Internet industry, enterprises track users’ “data footprints” through the Internet of Things, they then integrate and analyse it in order to provide a basis for policy decisions for enterprise development. Because of this, to a certain degree, a huge mass of users means market potential and development prospects. In the last two years, e-commerce has rapidly expanded in our country, and ever more businesspeople have forcefully expanded online channels outside of traditional sales models, ever more people have changed their purchasing habits, they love online shopping, they stay at home and enjoy entertainment on Haitao. Last year, our country’s e-commerce market exchange value reached 10 trillion Yuan. From 2010 onward, the competitive commercial activities by which Internet service businesses have vied for market share with their commercial adversaries have grown ever more intense, they not only influence the ecology within the industry, they have also radiated to netizens numbering in hundreds of millions. Last year, Yu’ebao advertised with an interest rate that is higher than current deposit accounts with banks, and in three months, accumulated 16 million new accounts. Starting in the second half of 2013, Yu’ebao, “Huoqitong” (jointly rolled out by Tencent, Tenpay, Huaxia Fund and Huaxia Money), “Baifa Financial Management” (under the banner of Baidu) and other such Internet finance management products have successively emerged, and the competition in the electronic commercial banking area as turned white hot.

It can be imagined that the daily renewal of new Internet technology not only deeply changed social and economic development methods and people’s production and living standards, they have also put forward a series of new topics and new challenges for economic and social management.

2. Wearable terminal equipment is appearing, and mobile Internet development profoundly influences social development trends.

The mobile Internet with smartphones and tablet computers as terminals has grown explosively, and is one of the clearest characteristics of the development of China’s Internet in the past two years. In life, everyone can directly experience the quantity of mobile netizens. In the underground, on buses and in cafes, everywhere the “lowered head tribe” can be seen, they listen to music, watch movies, buy things, chat, read, etc., and all of this is realized on mobile phones. When getting together with friends or dining with relatives, mobile phones must always be placed on the table, it is as it is said: “the longest distance in the world is not between me at the edge of heaven and you at the corner of the sea, but it is when you are playing with your mobile phone when I’m next to you”.

Mobile terminals are not only mobile phones and tablet computers, wearable equipment will initiate a new and more magnificent chapter for the mobile Internet. During the Two Meetings period this year, pictures of a People’s Daily journalist wearing Google glasses during interviews aroused considerable interest. Google glasses have a similar function to smartphones, they can take pictures through voice command, record conversations, give directions and surf online, process written information and e-mails, although they are not yet openly sold, similar wearable terminals undoubtedly will be one of the development directions of the mobile Internet. The evolution and renewal of these terminals not only changes the production methods of media, it also influences people’s news consumption customs, up to the point where they influence social development trends. The annual report on news media published by the American Pew Research Centre (State of the News Media 2013) shows that nearly one third (31%) of American youths have abandoned one medium (including stopping to read a paper medium, or no longer watching a television channel), the reason for that abandonment is that these media are no longer able to provide the news they want. At the same time, the largest global social media site, Facebook, has become the largest news reading network un the US, 64% of US youths use this website monthly.

Among Chinese netizens, the proportion of people using mobile phones to go online has risen from 74.5% at the end of 2012 to 81.0%, far higher than the proportion of netizens using other means to go online. Following the expansion of 3G and 4G networks, some industry models, business models and commercial models have incessantly replaced older iterations. QR code tracing technology has been adopted in the production and sale of Xinjiang Aksu apples, to supervise and control the production, logistics and consumption process of apples. These small applications have brought a brand premium of 20-30% to enterprises, reduced losses through counterfeits, safeguarded consumers rights and interest, and engendered a very good social effect and economic effect.

The expansion process of the mobilization of internet business is already comprehensively spreading out, funds, technology and talent are rapidly gathering together, and this is becoming one of the areas developing the most rapidly, in which competition is the most intense and innovation is the most vivacious.

3. The Central Leading Group for Internet Information has been established, this means that cybersecurity and informatization construction have been elevated to being a national strategy.

Last year, Snowden and the “PRISM” plan put the severity of the issue of online information security in the face of the entire world. It woke up every person and every country: online information systems have become basic platforms and nerve centres for political, economic, cultural and social activities, if they are destroyed, it may bring grave consequences to financial communications in an entire country, to energy and transport, defence and military affairs, and many other areas relating to the national economy and people’s livelihoods, as well as core national interests. The network has broken through national boundaries in the traditional sense, they are a sort of “new frontier” for countries, major countries’ value understandings concerning cybersecurity are incessantly deepening, cyberspace security has been elevated to the height of national security strategy, and is planned and directed as such. The US, the UK, France, Germany and other major countries have all formulated cyberspace security strategies. According to incomplete statistics, more than 50 countries have already published cybersecurity strategies, more than 40 countries have established cyber warfare units. It may be said that the most important battlefield in global competition in the next ten years will be the Internet.

Being a large Internet country is not the same as being a strong Internet country. Our country currently has 4 million websites, and ranks first worldwide in the number of netizens, it has the highest quantity of broadband access, and only ranks second to the US in terms of website visits, it is truly a large Internet country worthy of that name. But, there are some indicators that are lacking behind levels of developed countries worldwide, such as the rate of Internet penetration. By December 2013, our country’s Internet penetration rate was 45,8%, less than 50%. On the other hand, the market value of our publicly traded Internet companies is still far behind in comparison with the U.S, China’s Internet enterprises established after 2005, so far have not emerged on domestic trading lists. In the area of safeguarding cybersecurity, although we have exerted grave efforts, regulatory structures are incomplete, methods are not rich, technology is not up to the mark, this creates very large risks in cybersecurity. Only in 2013, 2430 of our country’s government websites were altered, a comparative growth of 34.9%. Especially the Internet area lacks indigenously innovated core technology, from hardware to software, from basics to applications, from products to services, a large difference exists with Western developed countries and even with South Korea and India. 82 per cent of servers, 73.9 per cent of storage devices, 95.6 per cent of operating systems and 91.7 per cent of databases in our country’s government departments and important sectors are foreign products. Our country’s annual import of chips is worth in excess of 200 billion US dollars, which is higher than the 120 billion US dollars of imported oil. US Internet enterprises have seemingly penetrated into every segment of our country’s cyberspace, covering all areas of information technology. At the same time, in online life, the lawful rights of network users, and individual privacy have repeatedly been violated, online viruses, the human flesh search engine, cyberattacks, online secrecy theft and other such phenomena occur frequently.

Promoting online information security requires incessant technological innovation, only through scientific and technological innovation will it be possible to occupy the commanding heights of information technology. Our country’s Internet enterprises do not innovate sufficiently, emerging Internet enterprises are not strength, and other such problems exist that constrain the expansion of our country’s network power, even though we have a huge mass of Internet users, it is still difficult to fully give rein to the advantages of our country’s Internet market. Because of this, national cyberspace strategy and planning brooks no delay, and the matter of cybersecurity is extremely urgent. On 27 February of this year, General Secretary Xi Jinping convened the fist meeting of the Central Leading Group for Cybersecurity and Informatization. The Central Network and Information Leading Group is the third important body that works across Party, government and military lines, in which General Secretary Xi Jinping is the direct head and Premier Li Keqiang is the first vice-director. This body is not only a leading group for informatization, but has also put cybersecurity in a prominent position, it is considered together with the overall national informatization strategy, which has a major strategic significance. In this meeting, General XI Jinping stressed that: “Without cybersecurity, there is no national security, without informatization, there is no modernization”, clearly putting forward the strategic objective of building our country into a strong network country. It may be foreseen that our country’s future Internet development will proceed at the same pace as the “Two Centuries” struggle objective, and will incessantly proceed towards the objective of the basic penetration of network infrastructure, the clear strengthening of indigenous innovation capacity, the complete development of the information economy, powerfully guaranteeing cybersecurity.

II, The new characteristics of online public opinion dissemination

The application of new Internet technologies has changed all people’s information consumption methods. Where traditional media and especially printed media are concerned, being able to adapt to information network dissemination trends is an opportunity, not being able to adapt or not being able to follow this trend is a risk. In the first period of Internet development, some traditional paper media, radio stations and television stations built their own websites, and published content from newspapers, broadcasts or programmes at the same time. In this period, the network was, in fact, a new carrier for the traditional media industry, and had a strong instrumental flavour. After the Internet entered the Web 2.0 era, the properties of the Internet have seen a series of new changes, what we have felt most clearly is that you can not only brose website content, you can also publish opinions and express viewpoints online, this was a change from pure “reading” to “writing” and even “jointly building”. The various sorts of new technologies fostered by the network has changed traditional media into public opinion spaces in which common people are able to jointly participate, especially after the popularization of blogs and microblogs, barriers to content publication and dissemination have reduced greatly. The uni-directional dissemination and passive audience reception model of tradition media has been replaced by new media, represented by the Internet, with equal exchange and interactive dissemination, which pay more attention to user experience, satisfy the diversified demands and are disseminated in real-time, public opinion dissemination has thus seen a number of new characteristics.

1. The social mediafication of online media has made individualized information screening normal, and information dissemination chains more dynamic.

The core of change of China’s online media in the last ten years is the change from stressing the relationship between people and content to increasingly stressing the relationship between people. QQ, Weibo, WeChat, YiXin, YY and Momo, these products have greatly tightened the distance and space for free exchange and communication between people, we are no longer simply locked into a relationship between people and content. Everyone in a socialized chain conducts a second dissemination of information after screening it. This selective process has made information progressively shift from “public use” to “private enjoyment”, for example, on the WeChat platform, you can freely read or reject all sorts of information on the basis of your individual interest, and you can resend information you approve to specific persons, finding a true audience for this information.

This autonomous and dynamic process of dissemination is a clear characteristic of the social media relationship chain. People can push change in content production models with regard to their specific information demands, content production subjects may become more pluralized, and the “customized” information “special oven” that people forge may become even more individualized. Still, this individualized content on social media cannot replace mass media, it may even be said that newspapers, television, etc., still are indispensible information sources and content producers. Japan conducted a survey of social media users in Tokyo and eight other countries (the capital and the countries are Japan’s first-level administrative divisions) in 2012, the results demonstrated that among people who regularly post texts or publish information on social media, about 30% of the content they post originates from newspapers, television and other mass media reports. Although information sourced from mass media is far less than the information created by themselves, in terms of reliability, 58.3 per cent of people who regularly publish information believe that newspaper information can be trusted, and those believing that main page content from television stations, enterprises, organizations, etc. can be trusted respectively number 45.9 per cent and 38.2 per cent. Information originating from social media is held to be not so trustworthy, among the abovementioned survey participants, only 10.2 per cent trusts information originating from social media.

On our country’s new media platforms, high-quality news content equally is a decisive factor in attracting users. This is exactly the forte of mainstream media, political authority, specialized content, brand influence and market share are the loci of the advantages of “mainstream media”. Now, mainstream media is trying all possible means to uphold its content superiority, and at the same time paying attention to using the form of social media to strengthen interaction with audiences. The People’s Daily’s legal persona microblog already has in excess of 30 million fans, and has become an influential media microblog. Xinhua has opened a special new media line, and uses multimedia methods to provide rich products and information services to users, the Central Television Station ” Television Audiovisual” user terminal has in excess of 210 million users, spread across more than 190 countries and regions. By the end of November 2013, there were 103 websites in China that provided microblog services, with a total number of microblog accounts in excess of 1.3 billion; media microblogs have rapidly developed, only on Sina Weibo and Tencent Weibo, there were more than 37.000 media body accounts. The People’s Daily Online, CCTV News, the Voice of China and other such media have opened up and accessed the news user end, they collect many kinds of broadcasts in one go and rely on “news + subscription models”, the news customer end is beginning to realize the objective of complete mobile media platforms, these are all beneficial attempts towards media convergence that break through traditional dissemination methods. It may be said that, under new media circumstances, the new media-ification, transformation and development of mainstream media is conducting coordinated breakthroughs and innovation through production models, content models, channel models, user models and other complete industry chains, and a new kind of public opinion structure is being shaped.

A healthy and flourishing information society inevitably is inevitably one in which individual information and public content exist at the same time and mutually supplement each other, individual information respects the differences between groups’ demands, and public content is the “glue” of society. Completely fragmented information and highly homogeneous information both have negative influences. The former may entail a state of disunity, without any voice that can be dominant, with a lack of trust between groups and between audiences, and with a cyberspace flooded with unverified discourse lacking a sense of responsibility. The latter means that there is no exchange between groups, that they all talk to themselves, creating grave group polarization.

2. The fragmentation of information and the microization of communication are other notable characteristics of present-day online communication.

In an internet era where information is highly developed, social life is becoming more pluralized, the rhythm is becoming ever faster, information demands are becoming ever more diverse. One notable characteristic of the new forms of network media communication is “micro-communication”, information is becoming fragmented, content production increasingly stresses conciseness and brevity, liveliness and speed. Microblogs only have 140 characters, microvideos only last three minutes, microfilms last less than half an hour. All sorts of micro-content and micro-information are circulating rapidly and circulating across platforms, users can obtain the most information in the shortest time at any time and in any place.

“Micro-communication” has made information circulation increasingly reliant on new Internet technology. During the “Two Meetings” period, People’s Daily Online set up a mobile direct broadcast room for the first time, the four “micros”, microvideos, microblogs, WeChat and micronews daily, integrated and engaged in live broadcast of images and text and real-time reporting of the “Two Meetings”. Xinhua Online set up columns such as “On-the-spot at the Two Meetings”, “The Two Meetings Knowledge Circle: I Contribute Knowledge to Reform”, “The Two Meetings Fans Group” and other such columns on its official microblog platform, to extend the reach of reporting on the Two Meetings to social media. China Network Television recommended reporting on the Two Meetings at the same time, through IPTV, mobile phone television, mobile phone CCTV Online, Internet Television, the CCTV News User Terminal, Cbox CCTV audiovisual user terminals and other such terminals, shaping joint communication forces. China Economic Net pushed out “Where Has the Time of Representatives and Committee Members Gone” and many other series of collected information, which guaranteed the systematicness and integrity of reporting on the Two Sessions, and realizing “brevity, uniformity and speed” in information communication. China Net, China Broadcasting Net, Sohu, Netease, Tencent and other such websites rolled out a series of columns on their mobile user terminals, microblogs and WeChat platforms, including “Micro-Broadcast”, “Micro-Video”, “Micro-Livecast”, etc., and so brought information about the Two Sessions to netizens through mobile terminals instantly.

The traditional media often put up a stance, write lengthy pieces and articles, this communication model of strong pushing and hard pouring is different from online communication, micro-communication is now following its path in a big way. Last year, “How Have Leaders Been Trained” was warmly received online, it was rolled out online in the form of a five-minute cartoon. Within a short few days, the click rate of various large websites exceeded 10 million times, ranking it at the front of similar videos. Netizens applauded it as one, all believing that this video linked up with the climate, it was close to the masses, followed the masses, “cute”, and reduced the distance between central leaders and the popular masses. It expressed a serious political topic in a humorous manner, which was a great breakthrough in propaganda work.

3. Watchability, explaining news with images, cartoons, etc., are increasingly becoming new online communication forms that meet with success.

Shallow reading has become a clear symbol of information fragmentation and micro-communication. Shallow reading is not “superficial”, its essence is speed and skimming, and incessant renewal, sometimes this means “accuratization”, it means that information must have “eyeball effects”.

Search engines have made “customized” shallow reading possible, what different keywords bring all is “fragmented” information, the details of events emerge before an overall view, the process of people absorbing information displays the characteristics of going from points, to threads, and then again to surfaces. Some websites use cloud computing and big data to optimize media content production, storage and analysis workflows, enhance their data processing capacity, fully unearth the news value behind big data, broaden news sources, enrich new content and provide high-quality news information products to users. In this year’s Spring Festival period, CCTV and Baidu have cooperated in using big data analysis to report the movement and circulation of people during the Spring Festival, this is not only accurate, watchable and trustworthy, but it brings a completely new impression to people. Watchability, images, cartoons and other information dissemination forms have greatly raised people’s sense of cheerfulness and joy in reading, they have guaranteed the interest for online information in the process of dissemination, and provide information volumes to the broadest possible extent.

4. Network public opinion communication not only requires paying attention to the production of news information sources, but also great attention for the guidance and maintenance of information dissemination and circulation processes.

If we do not pay attention to information dissemination and circulation processes, it will be difficult to avoid that information changes appearance halfway. Quite a few positive reports have, because of devious appraisal by some Big Vs with ulterior motives, because of interference by some public relations companies employing navies, or the flood of following posts by me-tooist netizens, during the process of dissemination become online negative energy in the end. Because of this, communication through new media, represented by the Internet, is opposite to traditional mainstream media, and we must pay ever more regard to guiding and maintaining the process of dissemination, pay ever more regard to guiding online comments and managing tracking posts during the process of communication, pay ever more attention to the construction of online comment teams and the education, training and management of website editors, and truly build a line of teams with strong politics, excellent business skills and a solid work style.

III, New explorations in network management.

Even though there are great differences in international society on how to manage the Internet, there is a consistent attitude that “the Internet requires stronger governance”. No country can permit the Internet becoming a “land outside the law”. The Centre has decided to establish a higher-level Internet management body, which from the height of modernizing the country’s governing capacity, will expand top-level design strength, rationalize and integrate the cybergovernance structure, realistically enhance new media application levels and governance capacity, and promote the shaping of an objective and rational online ecology.

1. Building an Internet legal system, strengthening top-level design.

This is an urgent need for maintaining order in cyberspace and guaranteeing cybersecurity, it is also a necessary condition to participate in the formation of international standards and increasing our international cyber discourse power. The Centre pays high regard to network legislation, the 18th Party Congress and its 3rd Plenum have clearly indicated the necessity to strengthen the construction of a network legal system, expanding strength to manage the network according to the law, and stimulate that the network is operated according to the law, according to norms and in an orderly manner. In February of this year, at the first meeting of the Central Leading Group for Cybersecurity and Informatization, General Secretary Xi Jinping stressed again that we must grasp the formulation of legislation and planning, perfect laws and regulations for Internet information content management, crucial information infrastructure protection, etc., govern cyberspace according to the law and safeguard citizens’ lawful rights and interests.

At present, our country’s network legislation is mainly composed of two component parts, one part is traditional laws and regulations, that can be directly applied to the network, or can be applied to the network after revision or interpretation, another part consists of special legislation for the network. Generally speaking, this network legislation has mostly been formulated in thy early period of Internet development, and contains problems such as being insufficiently up to date, lacking focus, and systematicity, they are relatively low-level norms, etc. Following the rapid development of the network, and the incessant emergence of mobile Internet, cloud computing, the Internet of Things, e-commerce and other such new technologies and new businesses, the problem of cybersecurity has become more prominent every day, the existing legislation can no suit the needs of network management and development, it is urgently necessary to conduct top-level design and comprehensive planning, and vigorously launch legislation, alteration, abolition and interpretation work.

2. Free and safe circulation of online information relies on the order of norms.

Currently, the “Internet Information Service Management Regulations”, the “Internet News Information Service Management Regulations”, the “Minors Protection Law” and other such laws and regulations are unequivocal on obscenity and sex, vulgar information and other such content prohibited online. The State Internet Information Office has, in cooperation with other departments, launched many special campaigns to deepen and expand regulating the online order, and clean up cyberspace. In the area of standardizing online news broadcasting order, on 9 May 2013, A special campaign of two months on norms for the Internet news information broadcasting order was deployed and launched on a nationwide scale, with a focus on acts violating regulations such as news source indications not being standard, releasing false and inaccurate information, maliciously altering news titles, illegally using the name of news organs to release news, etc. In the area of attacking online rumours, in August 2013, public security organs nationwide launched a special campaign to deal with online rumours, the Supreme Court and Supreme Procuratorate especially rolled out a corresponding judicial interpretation, and a batch of online celebrities, such as “Qin Huohuo” and “Li’erchaisi” were successively caught. At the same time, Beijing regional websites’ joint anti-rumour platform came online, which rapidly integrated and disseminated information to refute rumours. In the area of norms for self-media, on 10 August 2013, the State Internet Information Office director Lu Wei and more than 10 online celebrities had a discussion, in which it was pointed out that online celebrities should bear even more social responsibility and disseminate positive energy, and it was put forward that they should observe the “Seven Baselines”. At the same time, clear requirements were put forward for the rapidly developing instant communications tool WeChat, as well as for Weibo accounts set up by foreign groups, bodies and foreign government leaders. In the area of cleaning up online obscenity, sex and vulgar information, this year on 13 April, the Nationwide “Sweeping Away Pornography and Striking Illegality” Work Group Office, the State Internet Information Office, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and the Ministry of Public Security jointly issued the “Report concerning Launching a Special Campaign to Attack Online Vulgar and Sexual Information”, to conduct a one-time comprehensive clean-up of online obscene, sexual and vulgar information, including on the mobile Internet. At the same time, they announced channels to accept social supervision, and coordinate with the development of the special campaign through real actions. Civilised countries are inevitably countries that have a good Internet order and use Internet content healthily. Only if government, media, netizens and other pluralized actors join hands, and build coordinated governance mechanisms, will it be necessary to strengthen online governance and guarantee the order of the online media ecology.

3. Sector self-discipline is an important component part of Internet management.

“Government strengthening management, the sector strengthening self-discipline” is a widespread method of Internet management in various countries worldwide. In 20 years, our country has progressively explored and established Internet management systems integrating legal norms, administrative supervision, sector self-discipline, technological guarantees, public supervision and social education, sector self-discipline has become an indispensable and important component part of our country’s Internet management. Some Internet sector self-discipline organizations launch explorations and research in close step with Internet developments, vigorously coordinate with government to strengthen sector management, and have made prominent contributions to promoting our country’s Internet development and the construction of a network culture with Chinese characteristics. The Capital Internet Society established in 2004 has shaped constraints on Internet enterprises mainly through the three mechanisms of the “Beijing Network News Information Advisory Council”, the “Website Self-Discipline Commissioner” and the “Mummy Inspection and Approval Team”. In the beginning of this year, Tencent published the letter of proposal “Declaration of War Against Online Fraud and Black Industry Chains”, directed to all of society and business circles, which sounded the trumpets of war against online fraud and black industry chains. As a network business, the sector self-discipline that Tencent proposes has the advantages of being formulated relatively simply and having great applicability and flexibility. At the present juncture, this can not only give rein to a regulatory role concerning individual acts of information processing or a barrier role until official laws are promulgated, it can also accumulate experiences for the formulation and promulgation of corresponding laws. In early April, the China Internet Finance Association was established, this national-level association’s members include banks, finance companies and other such traditional financial bodies, it is aimed at implementing self-discipline and management over the Internet finance sector, promotes the creation of uniform sector service norms and standards, guides Internet finance enterprises to implement their social responsibility, and stimulates the healthy development of the overall sector. At present, the great development, great convergence and great change of the Internet have become fixed modes, the areas that self-regulation organizations explore are ever wider, and their forms may grow increasingly diverse. These sector organizations will give full rein to a driving role, a serving role and a node role in self-discipline construction, perfect self-discipline norms, complete self-discipline frameworks, vigorously launch online information public appraisal, civilized website selection and other such activities, guide business circles to run the network according to the law, sincerely and in a civilized manner, and promote the sustained and healthy development of the Internet sector.

4. Raising citizens’ individual online cultivation is the basis of managing and using the Internet well.

The increase in Internet, mobile equipment and social media use has resulted in an increasing difficulty of the people’s mastering available information. Creating norms for Internet development, apart from perfecting laws and regulations and strengthening management and sector self-regulation, must rely on the people’s self-consciousness support to a very large degrees. This requires netizens to strengthen their consciousness about public opinion pacts, foster thinking to objectively deal with news events and persist in safeguarding the public interest, and use an open and tolerant attitude to deal with Internet information dissemination.

Looking from the composition of our country’s Internet, raising the information cultivation of the youth and students brooks no delay. At present, our country’s youth comprise 235 million netizens, or 41.6 per cent of the total number of netizens. They are in a crucial period in which their worldviews, views of life and value views are formed, at the same time that the network and new media make it convenient for youths to study and live, they also engender quite a few negative influences. The rapidity and openness of online information disseminations easily create difficulties of screening information for youngsters who are inexperienced in the ways of the world, this is not beneficial for the fostering of their thinking ability and judgment ability. At the same time, the flood of vulgar information, online rumours and other such false information may mislead social understandings, and dilute or supersede the education on mainstream ideology and morals for a number of youths, and their value views may be distorted or deviated.

In recent years, various government departments have conducted a series of explorations and trials in the areas of forcefully advocating that minors use the Internet in a civilized and green manner. In November 2013, the State Internet Information Office, the Ministry of Education, the Central Committee of the Communist Youth League and other such work units jointly guided one hundred websites nationwide to launch a campaign of loving concern for the youth and the network: “Green Network – Help Dreams to Fly”. Within this, Internet law and regulation lectures and dissemination activities were aimed at the young masses, these propagated and disseminated knowledge about Internet laws and regulations and common knowledge about surfing safely and healthily, guiding youths to strengthen their consciousness about law, raising youths’ network self-cultivation and legal consciousness, and shaping scientific, civilized, healthy and law-abiding surfing habits.

Fostering online civilization and cultivation is not a work of one day. Commercial departments must make online culture rule of law and moral education a part of their practice in building a Socialist core value system, and raise citizens’ willingness to consciously safeguard the healthy and orderly development of online culture. We must both implement the “Cybersecurity Knowledge Entering Schools” campaign, and give rein to the main channel function of ideological and political education in all classes and special classes on the Internet, in daily school education and management, we must bring students’ online morals into curriculum teaching and strive to realize minors’ online self-education, self-restraint and self-protection.

(The author is the Vice-Director of the State Internet Information Office).

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