China on Sunday said it aims to become a “great power” in the online world and took a swipe at Washington on trade, kicking off its annual conference promoting the Communist Party’s controlled and censored version of the internet.
US-China rivalry is increasingly playing out in the digital sphere, as Beijing pursues dominance in next-generation technology while Washington takes measures to cripple Chinese tech firms like Huawei.
China heavily monitors and censors its internet, with US titans Facebook, Twitter and Google all hidden behind a so-called “Great Firewall” that also blocks politically sensitive content.
At the yearly World Internet Conference, held in the picturesque ancient canal town of Wuzhen since 2014, Chinese officials talked up the country’s tech prowess.
“We have become a cyberspace power of 800 million netizens,” the head of the Communist Party’s propaganda department, Huang Kunming, said in a keynote address.
Huang added that in the future, China “will unceasingly expand the fruits of internet development and forge ahead from a cyberspace ‘big power’ to a cyberspace ‘great power'”.