– In a speech during the opening ceremony of the 4th World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, Dominique de Villepin spoke briefly about the main issues facing the digital economy, alongside Wang Huning, Tim Cook and Jack Ma –
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am very pleased to be here in the gorgeous town of Wuzhen. No city could be a better place to host the World Internet Conference. Because it is a place of openness with canals and bridges as a symbol of communication, combining both innovation and tradition.
In the two last decades, digital economy contributed to open societies as never before. It made mobility faster, distance shorter and trade easier. It created immense territories of growth, knowledge and development, serving the common good. In this regard, 2017 has been a crucial year. For the first time in history, the global number of web users has exceeded a half of world’s population.
But Internet is not a riskless promise. It also created a new space of risk:
– First, technological confrontation is spreading between the two major poles of digital innovation: China and the USA;
– Second, cybersecurity is globally challenged within States and companies;
– Third, the growing confusion between private and public use of Internet is also threatening privacy of personal users;
Each past revolution has drawn a new frontier creating fears and opportunities. That’s why we need new ways of thinking, regulating and exploring the cyberspace.
I – This year has been a major turning point for digital economy based on a shift from the West to the East
– The US leadership has been increasingly challenged by Chinese technology:
· Today, China tends to take the lead of digital innovation as we recently witnessed with the rise of TENCENT’s market capitalization above that of FACEBOOK:
o Economic competition led to the creation of major challengers like ALIBABA, JD.com and BAIDU renewing the face of Internet;
o Political stimulation also fostered innovation as we saw during the 19th Congress under the sign of modernization;
· At the same time, leading Tech companies of the US have been facing growing challenges, especially in Europe, in terms of regulation and taxation.
II – This major shift in digital economy is opening a new era of collective responsibility
– First, it creates a new momentum for regulation. The time has come to improve multilateral cooperation to build a shared governance of Internet:
· Public initiatives must be taken at a political level to deal with major issues like security, interoperability and neutrality in the cyberspace, for example by negotiating a global Treaty of Internet in the frame of the United Nations;
· But building a common regulation also implies the commitment of all the stakeholders, from States to companies and civil societies as is the case today.
– Second, there is a new momentum for innovation. We need concrete partnerships in digital economy:
· The use of Internet inside cities of tomorrow could be a decisive area of partnerships:
o Internet is a great instrument to invent a new kind of integrated city focused on energy safety, security and sustainability;
o European and Chinese companies have developed strong know-how and commitment in providing energy solutions. I do believe the EU-China cooperation can be a cornerstone in improving data collection, exploration, sharing and use to reduce cost and pollution while enhancing the quality of life.
– Third, digital economy is a new chance for stability:
· Internet also brings new possibilities of providing remote countries with healthcare and education thanks to the IoT and the diffusion of knowledge;
· It is the aim of the Digital Silk Road to develop cross-border economy from Asia to Europe and Africa through expanding internet infrastructures.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Internet is the new frontier of the century.
What we need today is to build up a collective and cooperative environment transforming data from information flows to dynamic resources.