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Statement by Ambassador SHA Zukang, Head of the Chinese Delegation at the First Meeting of the Intergovernmental Preparatory Committee of the World Summit on the Information Society (01/07/02, Geneva)
Mr. President,

It's a great pleasure for the Chinese delegation to join other delegations in Geneva to discuss matters related to the preparations for the World Summit on the Information Society. First of all, please allow me, on behalf of the Chinese delegation, to extend to you our sincere congratulations on your assumption of the Presidency of the Intergovernmental Preparatory Committee. It is my hope that, under your guidance, the preparatory work will get off to a fresh start from a sound basis at this meeting. Let me assure you of the full cooperation on the part of the Chinese delegation. I would also like to take this opportunity to express our thanks to the host, the Government of Switzerland, and the Executive Secretariat of the Summit for their thoughtful arrangements for the meeting.

Mr. President,

The ongoing economic globalization and rapid advancements of science and technology have generated unprecedented technological conditions for global economic and social development in the new century. In particular, the development of information and communications technologies has been making tremendous impact on our economic, social and cultural life. On the one hand, informationization presents valuable "digital opportunities" for economic growth and social progress. On the other hand, it presents various challenges to us. Many countries are taking active measures to push the development of infocom technologies and the information industry in an effort to accelerate national informatization processes.

However, the infocom development worldwide is seriously unbalanced. The gap between the rich and the poor in enjoying the benefits of and utilizing information resources and information technologies is widening instead of narrowing, putting the developing countries in a more disadvantageous position. This will inevitably further aggravate the social and economic disparity between the North and the South. Narrowing and ultimately eliminating the "digital divide" is a major issue to be addressed in the process of building the information society. Otherwise, we would not be able to attain the goal of sustainable, sound and coordinated development of the global information society.

Against this backdrop, the international community decided to convene a World Summit on the Information Society in 2003 and 2005 to discuss and find solutions to issues related the development of the information society. Such a decision is absolutely right and necessary.

Mr. President,

This is the first meeting of the Intergovernmental Preparatory Committee of the WSIS. Both procedural and substantive issues will be addressed in this meeting. A good start constitutes half of the success. A fruitful PrepCom. is essential to the success of the Summit. Now, on behalf of the Chinese delegation, I would like to make some comments on the preparatory work of the WSIS:

Firstly, the task of the Summit is to formulate strategic goals and concrete steps for the coordinated development of the information society. Therefore, the preparatory work should be centered round this task and focused on the theme of development. We should devote our deliberations to economic and technological issues relevant to the information society, thus providing groundwork for the drafting of Declaration of Principles and Plan of Action in the Summit. As countries vary in their social and cultural traditions and level of economic development and informatization, plans and measures they formulate for their own informationization may well differ. Therefore, the Summit and the preparatory activities, when defining the development goals for global information society, shall take this factor into full consideration, so as to ensure the viability and feasibility of the related plans of action and implementation measures.

Secondly, information infrastructure is the physical foundation of a information society. Future information infrastructure shall satisfy our demand for intelligence, diversification, personalization, multimedia and globalization as well as universal service.  During the Summit and the preparation process, we shall work in practical term on policies and measures that accelerate the application of infocom technologies, promote network architecture readjustments and upgrading, and facilitate the evolution to high-speed broadband information networks that integrate voice, data and image and satisfy various service requirements in an all-round manner.

Weak information infrastructure has become a major reason for the gap between developing and developed countries and has seriously impaired the developing countries' ability to build information society. Therefore, the Summit and our preparation work shall put emphasis on exploring the strategic goals for developing countries to accelerate their information infrastructure build-out. These goals may include: government macroeconomic control and market regulation policies, infocom regulation system in line with national conditions, sound relationship between technological development and market growth, avoiding market risks, innovative financing mechanisms for more financing channels, etc.

Thirdly, security is the key to infocom networks.  Governments have shown greater concerns about the security issue especially after September 11.  Communications security is directly related to the risks and losses in communications.  Security guarantees may improve consumer confidence and further promote the applications of infocom technologies and networks.  Security of infocom networks involves technologies as well as laws and regulations and requires international cooperation.  The Summit and its preparation process shall consider:

-establishing international organizations and mechanisms that ensure the security and reliability of communication networks by fighting against viruses and cyber crimes;

-promoting research, development and application of leading-edge security technologies like emergency systems, PKI, etc., in order to build secure communication networks and protect on-line information;

-strengthening control of network security and protection of communications networks through application of laws and regulations.

Fourthly, we need to highly emphasize the importance of knowledge and human resources. In the future information society, knowledge and skills will be a major driver for economic growth and one of the major contributors to the sustainable development of the information industry.  One of the main reasons for the gap between developing and developed countries in information technologies is the lack of knowledge and human resources, which is a key issue to be considered in bridging the "digital divide". During the Summit and its preparatory process, we shall consider establishing innovative mechanisms for human resources development and explore ways to improve human resources development on the basis of the existing training centers and training resources as well as Internet so as to enhance infocom awareness.  Governments, businesses and academic institutions shall work together to establish a new cooperation mechanism in human resources development and training.

Fifthly, bridging the "digital divide" requires joint efforts of all countries around the world. Developed countries in particular shall truly shoulder their responsibilities in helping the developing countries accelerate their informatization processes and narrowing the "digital divide". Concrete actions shall be taken, on the basis of the principles of mutually beneficial cooperation, effectiveness, achievement sharing and promoting growth, to offer active assistance to developing countries in the form of financial support, technology transfer and human resources training, etc. The Summit and the preparatory process shall make real progress in this regard.

Sixthly, the private sector and the civil society do make a difference in the development of the information society. Their participation and inputs are important for both the preparatory work and the Summit itself. However, it should be also noted that since policy directions and goals for global information society development will be defined during the Summit, governments obviously should play the leading role in the preparatory process. Only in this way can we attain the anticipated goals in the preparatory process.

Mr. President,

Again, I wish to assure you that the Chinese delegation will participate in the work of this meeting in a positive and cooperative manner with a view to making our due contributions for its success.

Thank you, Mr. President.
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