China’s president, Xi Jinping, has addressed the opening ceremony of the 2023 World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, Zhejiang province, saying that international rules need to be respected and “cyberspace hegemony,” bloc confrontation, and an arms race in cyberspace must be opposed. He also emphasized that cooperation is essential to build a shared cyberspace community, calling for technology to be developed for the benefit of more countries. This was in line with his previous calls for the development of fair and equitable online infrastructure for all users.
During his pre-recorded comments delivered at the conference, Xi expressed Beijing’s readiness to promote the safe development of artificial intelligence (AI). He referred to China’s recently announced Global AI Governance Initiative, which advocates for the safe and open development of AI technology. Li Shulei, the head of the Chinese Communist Party’s publicity department, highlighted Xi’s remarks, mentioning that Beijing was committed to working with other countries to improve the safety, reliability, controllability, and fairness of AI.
Xi’s statements come at a time when several countries, including China and the United States, have sought to regulate the development of AI. In the U.S., President Joe Biden signed legislation in October aimed at promoting the responsible development of AI innovation and minimizing potential concerns related to the technology. Concerns about the impact of AI range from the spread of misinformation online to potential job losses caused by the automation of certain employment sectors.
This year’s conference in Wuzhen comes amid criticisms of China’s strict control over its citizens’ internet use. Many news and social media sites are blocked in the country. However, in the Wuzhen area, these restrictions are temporarily lifted for the duration of the conference. This has been seen by some as a move to project an image of openness and cooperation to the international community.
Xi’s words reflect China’s desire to position itself as a leader in the responsible development and regulation of AI. By emphasizing international cooperation and responsible use of technology, China aims to be seen as a responsible global actor in shaping the future of cyberspace and AI technology.
The global community should heed Xi’s call for cooperation and responsible governance of cutting-edge technologies like AI. As the capabilities of such technologies grow, it becomes increasingly important to manage the potential risks and harness their benefits for the common good. International collaboration and adherence to agreed-upon rules are essential to achieving this, and China’s stance on promoting safe and open development of AI is a step in the right direction.