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Internet Portal to Help Narrow Digital Divide, Finance Minister Says

Projects like the China Development Gateway (chinagate.com.cn) inaugurated today by the World Bank and the China Internet Information Center will help narrow the digital divide and increase cooperation between developing countries, according to Xiang Huaicheng, Minister of Finance.

“The development of the information industry itself is not the root cause of digital divide. Once mastered and enjoyed by millions of ordinary people, the information industry will become a powerful means to promote joint development,” Xiang said.

Xiang made his comments as he signed with World Bank President James D. Wolfensohn the Memorandum of Understanding on China’s Joining the Development Gateway Foundation at the Press Hall of the State Council Information Office on May 28. Based on the memorandum, China will contribute funds and materials worth US$5 million to the World Bank’s Development Gateway Foundation, started two years ago with the aim of establishing an information network covering every developing country in the world.

“We believe that the establishment of the Development Gateway portal is beneficial both to the promotion of information exchanges and mutual understanding and to the cooperation and joint development of all countries. The opening of China Development Gateway will be doubtlessly conducive to China’s sharing development experiences with other countries,” Xiang said.

Xiang noted that in a knowledge-based economy -- with information becoming an important element of production and an economic resource -- global informatization represented by Internet has become a double-edged sword: On the one hand, it has promoted the advancement and development of mankind; on the other hand, the “digital divide” -- a result of the disparity in the development of science and technology and information between countries -- has intensified imbalance in global economic development.

“To solve this problem, various countries should adopt a policy for developing their information industry in light of their own realities, and meanwhile, they should strengthen cooperation. An integral part of the development aid is to support the application of information technology in developing countries,” Xiang said.

Both the Chinese people and the government have been trying vigorously to use information technology to promote economic development and social advances by means of Internet, Xiang said, emphasizing Chinese government’s firm support for international cooperation and development aid in the field of information.

“The opening of China Development Gateway will doubtlessly be conducive to China’s sharing development experiences with other countries,” Xiang said.

(china.org.cn May 28, 2002)

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