Wuzhen for a week the capital of the internet

It does not happen often that seven out of the top ten internet business tycoons in the world attend the same congress. Apple CEO Tim Cook, Google CEO Sundar Pichai, Alibaba & Executive Chairman Jack Ma, Tencent CEO Pony Ma, Baidu CEO Robin Li, JD.com Founder & CEO Liu Qiangdong, Xiaomi founder and CEO Lei Jun, on top of executives of Facebook, Amazon, eBay, LinkedIn etc. were all present at the most important Internet Conference in China and by now, possibly the world.

The American speakers were full of praise of the Chinese internet sector and the WIC. The Apple CEO Tim Cook for example said that “The theme of this conference – developing a digital economy for openness and shared benefits – is a vision we at Apple share.” The attendance of the executives of the leading American internet companies reflected the importance attached on the other side of the Atlantic to the yearly World Internet Conferences organized by the Chinese authorities in Wuzhen.


Mr. Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, giving his keynote speech at the WIC.

Chinese business leaders did not fail to give their American counterparts friendly advice on how to do business in China. Jack Ma told them for example: “Please send people with entrepreneurial spirit, not professional management. Because wherever you go, doing business in another country is very difficult.”


Mr. Jack Ma, Chairman and Founder of Alibaba addressing the WIC.

Wuzhen has grown out as a forum encompassing a large variety of activities and sessions, ranging from panel discussions, to keynote speeches, to an exhibition of good practices, and a release ceremony for world leading Internet Scientific and Technological Achievements. The panel discussions were dedicated to topics such as: “Artificial Intelligence (AI): Smarter World, Better Life”, to “Inclusiveness and Mutual Learning: Internet Cultural Exchange and Sharing”, and “Construction and Sharing of Internet Culture – The Promotion of Multiple Subjects”.

Building a shared internet culture among participants with so different backgrounds and usages was one of the main goals of the conference. It is at the same time a topic on which ChinaEU regularly advises its members. For that reason, Luigi Gambardella, President of ChinaEU, had been asked to participate in the panel “Inclusiveness and Mutual Learning: Internet Cultural Exchange and Sharing”.

Luigi Gambardella said that if on the one hand “Cyberspace is the most inclusive platform ever made available for mankind” this does not mean that internet is or will lead to a cultural uniformization. Internet is a communications tool. But communication requires acknowledging “the cultural specificities of our Chinese partners and European compatriots”. Otherwise, there will be miscommunication.


Luigi Gambardella, President of ChinaEU, on cultural diversity during the WIC.

The Wuzhen conference is not only interesting because of its seminars and the high level participants one can meet. The conference also encompasses an exhibition of some of the most disruptive innovations achieved by China and other countries.

This year’s exhibition showcased again how daily life will look like tomorrow. For example, the startup “We-Doctor”, from Hangzhou, displayed how it provides remote health care solutions, enabling people to get adequate healthcare through a simple mobile app, which tackles the problem of long waiting times and high costs to get appointments with renowned specialists. We-Doctor is even planning to join hands with overseas hospitals and medical groups, thereby allowing Chinese patients to access to international healthcare resources,


Mr. Luigi Gambardella, President of ChinaEU, and Ms. Claudia Vernotti, Director of ChinaEU, trying out the We-Doctor app at the World Internet Conference.

Another future application was showcased by Face++. The company combines AI and Big Data to develop a very accurate facial recognition software that is already used by Alipay and Didi. One facial scan can be used to pay for your favorite product or taxi.


Mr. Luigi Gambardella, President of ChinaEU, and Ms. Claudia Vernotti, Director of ChinaEU, at the Face++ exhibition.

Large companies also displayed future services, such as Alibaba T-Mall unmanned store, where customers can shop without human interaction and without having to wait in line for check-out. T-mall unmanned store even rolled out a “Happy Shopping” emotional marketing campaign outside of the Light of the Internet Expo.


A unmanned supermarket at the WIC.

The WIC was concluded with a Release Ceremony for World Leading internet scientific and technological achievements. 14 companies received prices.

Huawei 3GPP 5G Pre-Commercial system came first and was priced for its 5G system in the pre-commercial stage. American and Chinese companies followed in the list of winners. The second to fourteenth prices went respectively to Arm Limited, Microsoft, China Satellite Navigation office, Qualcomm, National Supercomputing Center in WuXi, CAS Center for Excellence in Quantum, Tesla, Didi, Mobike, Alibaba, Baidu, Amazon, and Apple.

In his congratulatory letter to the 4th WIC, President Xi Jinping addressed in particular the foreign guests: “China wants to build on its own efforts to encourage countries across the world to board the express train of the internet and digital economy. China will never close its doors. They will only be open wider and wider going forward.”

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Luigi Gambardella discusses the latest in internet technology

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