China confirms that its digital economy accounts for nearly a third of gross domestic product, according to a report unveiled in the eastern city of Wuzhen during the fourth World Internet Conference where it declared that Chinese cyberspace is "open" -- but subject to controls for the greater good.
The report released on Monday by the Chinese Academy of Cyberspace Studies, said China's digital economy reached 22.58 trillion yuan ($3.4 trillion) in 2016. That figure is second only to the United States and accounts for 30.3 percent of the country's overall economy, according to the report.
The report assessed global internet development from a number of factors including industry capacity and "governance", China's code word for restrictions.
"China's experience suggests that both factors are crucial to a sound development of the internet that aims to serve the fundamental interests of the people," Xu Yunhong, an official from the academy, told a news conference in Wuzhen.
The three-day conference, which closes Tuesday, was set up to counter western criticism of its internet restrictions, which include blocking Facebook, Twitter and other foreign platforms, and bans on a range of content deemed politically threatening to the Communist Party.
China has cracked down even harder this year, including enacting new rules requiring foreign tech companies to store user data inside the country, imposing fresh content restrictions.
Participants at the Wuzhen conference enjoyed unrestricted internet access during the conference.
Despite criticism, Apple Inc.’s Tim Cook and Google’s Sundar Pichai took part in the conference this year, demonstrating the huge scale of the digital market in China.
Apple has been criticized for its cooperation with China and removing applications such as Skype from its digital store, which ensures the security of Internet communication. Google is believed to be seeking to return to China after withdrawing from it years ago because of disagreement over censorship and its cyber attacks.
Tim Cook and Sundar Pichai appeared to avoid criticism at Wuzhen, and the representatives of the two companies did not respond to questions from the French press for more information.