China, Arab states mull ‘online Silk Road’

Beijing, Sep 11 (IANS) China is willing to have comprehensive cooperation with Arab states on the internet and build an “online Silk road” to benefit people in these countries, the media reported on Friday.

The announcement was made by Lu Wei, director of the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), in the China-Arab States Expo Online Silk Road Forum on Thursday.

The forum was held in Yinchuan, the capital of Ningxia Hui region with over 800 politicians, business representatives and scholars from over 10 Arab countries and other nations including the India, Germany and the US in attendance.

It was the first time the Online Silk Road Forum was being held in Yinchuan. The forum was a part of the ongoing China-Arab States Expo 2015, which kicked off on Thursday morning.

In the forum, Lu vowed to promote cooperation with Arab countries to speed up the construction of regional cyber facilities, optimise the allocation of internet infrastructure and accelerate the popularity of 4G network and public Wi-Fi, in a bid to allow more people in poor areas to access the Internet and obtain information and knowledge.

He also proposed to deepen cooperation with Arab countries in digital economy including establishing a common market online and boosting development in the fields of commerce, trade, logistics and tourism by joining hands in customs clearance, inspection, quarantine and financial payment.

According to Lu, the e-commerce trade volume in 2014 exceeded 13 trillion yuan ($2 trillion) and is expected to reach 18 trillion yuan in 2015. There are more than 330 listed internet companies with a total market value of 3 trillion yuan.

Cooperation in new technologies involving cloud computing, big data and cultural exchanges will also be carried out to enhance connectivity to the internet which is a key to the Belt and Road Initiative and building a community of shared destiny with Arab countries.

“As Chinese President Xi Jinping has said, no matter if it is a highway, railway, an airline or the Internet, our cooperation reaches where there is a way. As the online Silk Road has set its sail, China and Arab states can utilize the online road to link the two great civilisations and make new contributions to the advancement of human beings,” Lu said.

Since China’s Belt and Road Initiative strategy, which refers to the Silk Road economic belt and the 21st century maritime Silk Road, was initiated at the end of 2013, significant progress has been made and increasing support has been garnered from the international community.

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