Cyberczar Lu Wei Walks the Thin Red Line

Cyberczar Lu Wei Walks the Thin Red Line

In 2013, former deputy director of Xinhua News Agency was appointed head of the State Internet Information Office, and in 2014 named chief of President Xi’s new Central Leading Group on Internet Security and Informatization. Often referred to as China’s “cyberspace minister,” Lu’s has demonstrated his savvy for adapting longstanding CCP strategies for leading public opinion to the new media landscape. Ahead of his planned trip to India later this year, India Today’s Ananth Krishnan profiles the cyberczar, highlighting the thin line he must walk in promoting innovation in China’s tech realm while also defending and reinforcing Beijing’s idea of “Internet sovereignty“:

Can innovation co-exist with controls? “When we talk about freedom we also need to talk about rules,” says Lu, who granted india today a rare audience at the State Internet Information Office. “There will be no freedom without any rules. When you talk about freedom, it doesn’t mean that people can act to freely violate laws. For example, we need to crack down on attempts to spread terrorism online.”

Lu rattles off a list of numbers to make his case that the current system of controls hasn’t stifled growth. Of the top 10 biggest internet companies in the world, China has four. There are 4 million websites in China, 500 million using Twitter-equivalent Sina Weibo, 600 million using WeChat, and 90 million using 4G. “There is no doubt this is an industry full of vigour. Every day there are new start-ups for internet services. Today, sales of Apple products in China tops the world. That’s why global magnates are interested in the China market.”

And that is why the US laid out a red carpet for Xi, despite concerns about cyber espionage and silencing of dissidents [see prior coverage via CDT]. Yet it is also true that a closed China will not succeed in its efforts to build an innovation economy. Lu acknowledges that “tech innovation will be the lifeline of Chinese enterprises”, and this will require close collabora-tion with countries that today are accusing China of keeping out foreign tech firms and carrying out hacking attacks. […] [Source]

Earlier this year, Lu Wei outlined the “four haves” that make up a “good Chinese netizen.” Read more about cyberczar Lu Wei, Internet sovereigntyInternet control, and technological innovation, via CDT.

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