Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Sunday the country will not close its door to the global internet, but that cyber sovereignty is key in its vision of internet development.
Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, made the remarks in a congratulatory letter to the Fourth World Internet Conference, which opened Sunday in the east China town of Wuzhen.
The annual event, organised by censorship tsar Xu Lin and the Cyberspace Administration of China, was founded in 2014. It promotes the country's favored concept of a more centrally controlled internet.
Accoording to Xinhuanet, Chinese President Xi Jinping said China hopes to encourage countries around the world to take a ride on the express train of internet and digital economic development.
Xi expressed a sincere welcome to government representatives, heads of international organizations, experts, scholars, and entrepreneurs who are attending the conference.
He expressed hopes that the delegates will draw on "collective wisdom and enhance mutual understanding so as to deepen exchanges and cooperation on the internet and digital economy, and make the development of the internet better serve the well-being of all people worldwide."
Xi pointed out that the development of the internet has posed many new challenges for the sovereignty, security, and development interests of the world's countries.
"Building a community of common future in cyberspace has increasingly become the widespread common understanding of international society," he said.
Xi said China hopes to work with the international community to respect cyberspace sovereignty and carry forward the spirit of partnership to commonly advance development, safeguard security, participate in governance, and share the benefits.
"China's door to the world will never close, but will only open wider," he said.
Wang Huning, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and member of the CPC Central Committee Secretariat, delivered a keynote speech at the opening ceremony.
Wang said China is willing to conform to the historic opportunities brought by the development of the internet and use the digital economy as an important driving force to promote the openness, cooperation, exchange, and sharing in cyberspace and build a community of common future in cyberspace.
"We should promote security, construct a fine order, and build a secure, stable and prosperous cyberspace," Wang said.
Apple's chief executive Tim Cook delivered a speech at he event, saying that developers using its platform in China number 1.8 million and have earned a total 112 billion yuan ($16.93 billion), representing roughly a quarter of total global App Store earnings.
Apple is facing criticism from local users and rights groups for bowing to pressure from Beijing cyber regulators after it decided to remove hundreds of apps from its Chinese store this year, including messaging apps and virtual private network (VPN) services, which help users subvert China's Great Firewall.
In June, China introduced a new national cybersecurity law that requires foreign firms to store data locally and submit to data surveillance measures.
Apple said earlier it had moved its Chinese cloud data onto the servers of a local partner in the Chinese province of Guizhou.
Google and Facebook are banned in China, along with Twitter and most major western news outlets.
Top executives from Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, Tencent Holdings Ltd and Baidu Inc also attended the forum. Others included Google chief executive Sundar Pichai.