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A Model Cooperative Project Between China and the World Bank

Days before the official launch of the China Development Gateway -- the Internet information portal jointly sponsored by the World Bank and the China Internet Information Center (CIIC) -- Huang Youyi, president of CIIC and vice president of China International Publishing Group, gave his comments on this project devoted to sharing information in development and poverty reduction both in China and among developing countries.

The first such large-scale IT project supported by World Bank in China, www.chinagate.com.cn will formally open to visitors throughout the world on May 28, joining the World Bank’s global Development Gateway project that began two years ago with the aim of establishing an information network covering every developing country in the world.

Huang Youyi explained the origins of the project: Wanting to choose a partner in China to run the China gateway, World Bank representatives in China found www.china.org.cn, the media website run by the China Information Internet Center that provides up-to-date information about China in eight different languages.

“We began to negotiate with the World Bank Group on the establishment of the China Development Gateway in January 2001, just months after www.china.org.cn was put into operation,” said Huang in an interview in the china.org.cn meeting room in Beijing. A graduate from Beijing Foreign Studies University who obtained his master’s degree from the University of Massachusetts, Huang, 46, has participated in the negotiations and other preparations behind the China Development Gateway.

“We felt great pressure and were aware of the difficulties in engaging in this project. However, there were many factors encouraging us to take on the challenge. The State Council Information Office and, in particular, its head, Minister Zhao Qizheng, were very keen on the project and promised us full government support. Besides, through china.org.cn we had acquired a substantial staff already experienced in producing content and running a website,” Huang said.

Also encouraging -- visiting World Bank officials came away from a tour in China very satisfied with the China Internet Information Center as its potential partner in establishing and running the portal. They pointed out that the basic information about China in politics, economy, culture, history, life, education, law that www.china.org.cn was producing and putting on the web every day was very useful for the new project, Huang said.

“After much hard work, including negotiations and document preparation often well into the night, we finally made the deal,” Huang said, who added that efforts to establish the portal were backed by strong support from the State Council Information Office and Ministry of Finance as well as several non-government bodies.

Huang thinks that cooperating with the World Bank is a good experience that benefits the China Internet Information Center both in immediate terms and in the long run. The World Bank officials who are in charge of the global gateway are experts in Internet technique and project organization.

“So we have learned a lot from them,” Huang said. While preparing the project documents with the World Bank officials round the clock, Huang was deeply impressed by their business expertise and diligence.

“In the past year the China Internet Information Center has invested funds, expertise and a great deal of human power in the project, designing and running demonstration versions of the Gateway. Two teams were organized to maintain, respectively, its English and Chinese versions. As for the content, we focus on development issues, poverty relief, women’s issues, education and environmental protection. We also have held a series of seminars with local media websites and research organizations on how to inform foreign website visitors on China’s experiences and lessons in development,” Huang said.

“China has successes as well as lessons in its development process. We in China need help from other countries and areas, as well as various international organizations including the World Bank. To run the Gateway successfully and make it a bridge connecting China with the rest of world, we still have a long way to go,” Huang said.

(By Chen Chao, www.china.org.cn staff reporter, May 27, 2002)

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