In a January 2017 speech, Xi said the “power to control the internet” had become the “new focal point of [China’s] national strategic contest,” and outlined the United States as a “rival force” standing in the way of the regime’s objectives.
The final purpose was for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to control all content on the global internet, so the regime could manipulate what Xi expressed as “discourse power” over communications and discussions on the world stage.
Xi explained the concept of “using technology to rule the internet” to gain total control over every part of the online ecosystem—over forms, content, quality, capital, and manpower.
His statements were made at the fourth leadership meeting of the regime’s top internet regulator, the Central Cyberspace Affairs Commission, in Beijing on Jan. 4, 2017, and described in internal documents issued by the Liaoning Provincial Government in China’s southeast.
The statements prove efforts made by Beijing in the past few years to expand its authoritarian version of the internet as an example for the world.
In another speech given in April 2016, detailed in a private document by the Anshan City Government in Liaoning Province, Xi confidently proclaimed that in the “struggle” to control the internet, the CCP has transformed from playing “passive defense” to playing both “attack and defense” at the same time.
Having successfully built the world’s most sprawling and complex online censorship and surveillance device, known as the Great Firewall, the CCP under Xi is turning outwards, advocating a Chinese internet whose preferences run against the open model championed by the West. Instead of prioritizing the free stream of content, the CCP’s system centers on giving the state the ability to censor, spy on, and control internet data.
The Chinese leader admitted the regime lagged behind its rival the United States—the predominant player in this field—in key areas such as technology, investments, and talent.
To achieve its goals, Xi stressed the need to “manage internet relations with the United States,” while “making preparations for fighting a hard war” with the country in this area.
American companies should be handled by the regime to reach their end, Xi said, without explaining how this would be done.
He also ordered the regime to ramp up its cooperation with Europe, developing countries, and member states of Beijing’s “Belt and Road Initiative,” to form a “strategic counterbalance” against the United States.