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Statement by Counselor Chen Ming of the Chinese Mission to the UN on "Promotion of Development through ICT" (Item 50) at the Second Committee of the 64th Session of the General Assembly

2009-10-28 16:00

New York, 28 October 2009

Mr. President,

The development of ICT has not only changed People's daily life, but also exerted profound influence on the political, social and economic landscapes of the world. The Chinese delegation endorses the statement made by Sudan on behalf of the Group of 77 and China.

The Chinese delegation has read carefully the Secretary-General's report on the implementation of the outcomes of the World Summit on Information Society. We note with satisfaction that, thanks to the concerted efforts of the UN system, Member States and all the stakeholders, the digital divide continued to narrow in many aspects in 2008, with more than half of the world's population being somewhat connected and 80-90% of the people being covered by cellular network.

In China, ICT has embarked on a path of development with Chinese characteristics, thanks to the support of the government and technological advances. Since the founding of the People's Republic of China, ICT has undertaken profound changes, underpinning the rapid growth of China’s national economy. Information and communication network has taken frog leaps from telegraph network to telephone network, from analogue network to digital network, from domestic network to international network, and from audio network to information network. China has established an information and communication network featuring high capacity and level, advanced technology, and multiple functions --- a network that covers the entire country and is connected to the whole world. A basic framework of state information highway has been put in place. At the end of 2008, the number of China’s internet users reached 298 million, of which 270 million were connected to broadband network, and the number of websites in China stood at 2.878 million. In recent years, new technologies based on 3G network have mushroomed, such as TV cell phone, video phone, high speed networking, and mobile business system. In the coming three years, the investment of China’s operators will be as high as 450 billion RMB yuan (or 65 billion US dollars). Each of them will attract 50 to 80 million subscribers. This will register about a trillion yuan of economic output. “The coming three years will present a good opportunity for China’s development,” as indicated by some experts, “and this will help China’s telecommunication industry better respond to the international financial crisis, and promote the sound and rapid growth of China’s national economy”.

Mr. President, despite the positive trends in ICT development in China and other developing countries and gradual narrowing of the digital divide in recent years, numerous challenges still exist. Internet users in developing countries only account for 12% of their population, far lower than the world average level of 23.6%. There is still a world of difference in ICT application, popularization and affordability among different countries and between cities and remote rural areas. Rural people make up two-thirds of China’s total population. In June 2007, however, the number of rural netizens in China was 37.41 million, only 29.9% of the 125 million in urban areas. In addition, while the digital divide is not yet bridged, a new “broadband divide” has emerged. In 2006, broadband network subscribers in developing countries only account for 35% of the world total, and those in Africa were less than 1% of the world total. People in remote rural areas in China can only watch one to three TV channels; a small number of administrative villages do not have access to telephone service; and the goal of universal telephone access in rural areas cannot be achieved before 2020. For these areas, broadband connection is only a far-off dream.

All this shows that in following through on the outcomes of the World Summit on Information Society and building a people-centered, development-oriented and inclusive information society, the international community and all stakeholders have a long way to go and are faced with an uphill battle. In this connection, we would like to put forward the following proposals:

First, strengthen cooperation and narrow all forms of divide. As we all know, the main reason blocking the popularization of ICT in developing countries is lack of necessary fund and affordable technology. We call on developed countries to fulfill in good faith their commitment to increasing financial and technical assistance to developing countries, promote cooperation with the developing world, promote exchanges and cooperation among developing countries and give full play to the role of ICT in achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

Second, combine popularization with R&D. In the poverty and remote areas, the top priority for development is still basic telecommunication infrastructure such as telephone and TV. All stakeholders must be mobilized to participate in disseminating new technologies and at the same time developing technologies that serve the special needs of different regions. For instance, satellite communication technology is suitable for remote areas with bad natural conditions and a sparse population. Local conditions should be taken into account in seeking the most suitable ICT development strategies.

Third, strengthen mutual trust and work together to safeguard information security. When the basic telecommunication network in a handful of regions is yet to be set up, some areas have frequently sounded the alarm of information insecurity. Hackers are not brought to justice while countries recriminating each other. A complete set of information security mechanism needs to be established in the world to ensure information security, People’s privacy and the smooth operation of the internet. Countries should strengthen mutual trust, and respect each other’s rights, interests and needs for network security. It is also necessary to improve legislation, crack down hard on all forms of hacker activities. Let us work together to build an information society that is harmonious, prosperous, secure and beneficial to all.

Thank you, Mr. President.


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