China says its digital economy accounts for nearly a third of GDP

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SHANGHAI China's digital economy accounts for nearly a third of gross domestic product, according to a report released at an annual cyberspace conference staged by the government to justify its strict Internet censorship.

Beijing this year has dramatically strengthened its already tight regulation of the Internet, but officials and local media have used the fourth World Internet Conference to declare that Chinese cyberspace is "open" - but subject to controls for the greater good.

The report unveiled on Monday in the eastern city of Wuzhen by the state-linked Chinese Academy of Cyberspace Studies, said China's digital economy reached 22.58 trillion yuan ($3.4 trillion) last year, according to conference organisers. That figure is second only to the US and accounts for 30.3 per cent of the country's overall economy, the report said.

"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," official Xu Yunhong from the academy said.

The three-day conference, which closed yesterday, 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. - AFP