China Towards Its Second Goal: Internet Civilisation, Rule of Law and Peace and Stability

By Mahika Ming | Published: 2:00 AM Nov 25 2021
FT China Towards Its Second Goal: Internet Civilisation, Rule of Law and Peace and Stability

By Mahika Ming 

The China Internet Civilisation Conference was held in Beijing recently. Theme this year was ‘Gather Strength for Good Deeds, Jointly Build Internet Civilisation’. The Conference is held with seven simultaneous sub forums which included internet ecology, young netizen cultivation focusing internet charity, platform economy and data and algorithm. The global village concept is made a reality largely due to the internet and developments in telecommunication technology. 

This connectivity initially resulted in western culture and habits flowing into East and Middle East with no proper cultural exchange controls. One positive change was the opportunity poor countries got to learn more from the western society on technological developments. The negative impact was much greater as per analysts basically turned cultural and traditional practices in Middle East and East upside down. 

Therefore, the need for countries to develop and manage the cyberspace security and civilisation is absolutely essential to maintain peace in their respective societies for the benefit of peace-loving masses. It is quite evident that social media is dominating mainstream media even in Sri Lanka. 

With the development of smart phones and other similar equipment conflict provocative fabricated information can be easily transmitted to the masses creating instability in a country. The People’s Republic of China (PRC) has therefore, taken a farsighted decision in organising such a conference which would be a good platform for countries such as Sri Lanka where internal conflicts created mainly by misinformation is stalling development (Ref. World Bank reports). 

Economyrelated cyberspace development in the PRC alone explains why it is important for policy makers to focus on the cyberspace civilisation more. PRC’s digital economy is approximately 39% of the PRC’s Gross Domestic Product during 2020. Parallel to economic activity in the PRC the cyberspace is increasingly dominating in digital culture thus increasing the demand for cyber security and cyber social responsibilities. President Xi Jinping issued a message with few important points to be noted by those who are keen on Cyberspace management. 

At the outset he encouraged cyber managers to rally positive forces to create a better cyberspace, construct the internet to serve a wider population, create more online platforms and invited nongovernmental organisations and netizens to work jointly with governments to create a better cyberspace. As per Chinese sources the Office of the Central Cyberspace Affairs Commission, the Central Commission for Guiding Cultural and Ethical Progress, the Beijing Municipal Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), and the Beijing Municipal People’s Government have jointly organised this event. 

Political parties in developing countries which are using the cyberspace for petty political gains should take this seriously as cyberspace will be the most important tool for public administrators in the decades to come. Before the internet was common man’s tool and only western dominated international main stream media was more powerful, the developing world only saw news and views to support the agenda of the transmitter. 

With the internet, that imbalance has been equalised to a great extent. Main stream media such as Al Jazeera, Russia Today and China Global Television Network among others are contributing to give the world a balanced picture. It is very important that public managers focus on managing the mass communications using tools such as the internet to prevent conflicts, implement sustainable development projects and prevent cyber crime. 

Tool for the developing world 

In fact, the internet is a good tool for leaders of nations to get ground information before making decisions. At a time when vegetable prices are sky rocketing in Sri Lanka, some citizens may recall how the then Prime Minister Dudley Senanayake was misled by officials by creating farming illusions during the agricultural revolution in the mid 1960s. The Mini cars which are now collectors’ items were first introduced during that project. 

In recent years, digital civilisation is becoming increasingly important and other developing countries actually should rally around PRC’s focus on creating a clean, safe and robust cyber environment. At the Conference, Chinese policy-makers have extended their invitation in this aspect to other countries and that is an offer, nations such as Sri Lanka should not miss. It was revealed that the Telecommunications Regulators of Sri Lanka once embarked on a Corporate Social Responsibility project by encouraging masses to practise meditation and creating the necessary platform for such activity. 

Helping masses to live in peace and be mentally fit is indeed a positive approach and is also a very rare opportunity for Sri Lanka to team with the PRC and the international community to exchange expertise and concepts, to maintain peace at ground level, using the cyberspace and the internet as a tool. 

What’s next in this situation? 

Sri Lankans, from all walks of life, experienced that cyberspace and the internet was the only tool which helped the world to carry on with dayto-day activities during the pandemichit 2020 - 2021. From a management point of view, all governments had to undergo many obstacles during the pandemic. In democratic countries some opposition parties were unconditionally helping the governments to serve the public while others were doing the opposite as if they would perform miracles if they were in power. In Sri Lanka, cyberspace was used to spread positive and negative news. 

Main stream media (which also depended on cyberspace during lock down) if critically analysed, proved futile to mitigate the threats created by negative cyberspace publicity during the pandemic. It was reported that disciplinary action would be taken against unauthorised officials who express views on the efforts taken by the State (in cyberspace) to destabilise the society (being State officials). 

Private organisations have always been adhering to the practice of only authorised personnel to communicate with the media. The State sector was misused during elections by most political forces, misusing cyberspace for political gains and using individuals with political agendas. Now it has gone out of control. It is therefore good, that policy-makers have realised the dangers in foresight and decided to implement the rules already written. 

If the stipulated rules are followed and those who violate them are punished, Sri Lanka can develop like China or Singapore. The Member of Parliament who won the Galle constituency during the 1977 July election would be in a better position to explain how dangerous it is to have double standards and maintain discipline in the country.

By Mahika Ming | Published: 2:00 AM Nov 25 2021

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