China needs to promote more creativity in the IT industry rather than imitate Western companies, a panel of business executives said during the 2010 China Internet Conference on Tuesday.
"If China really wants to become an Internet powerhouse, I think having creativity is very important," said Zhou Hongwei, the chairman of Chinese security company 360.
The remarks came as Chinese officials and dozens of business executives met on the opening day of the annual conference, which took place in Beijing. This year's conference focuses on Internet services and making the Web more "green" and sustainable. Speakers at the event also discussed their own views in regards to the Internet in China.
"China has copied too much," Zhou said during a panel discussion. It is understandable that many Chinese companies tried to imitate American IT companies starting a decade ago, but "there is no future in copying, especially if you are a small business," Zhou said.
Liu Shuang, CEO of Phoenix New Media, said: "Just because it's from the West, doesn't mean we have to refuse it." But in order for these ideas to succeed in China, they must accord with the conditions in China.
"I feel like the young people in this country don't lack for imagination," he added. However, issues like piracy or lack of support from companies can prevent these young people from getting their due, Liu said. "I feel like what we really need is to encourage this imagination, we need to reward it."
Even as major Chinese IT businesses have made impressive strides in making their own original products, more needs to be done said Gao Xinmin, vice president of the government-linked Internet Society of China. "As a whole, up until now, there has not been enough creativity in the Internet industry," he said.
The three-day conference will continue through Thursday. In the conference's opening remarks, government officials said the Internet was a driving force behind China's economy and stressed the need for its expansion into the mobile market and the country's rural areas. In July, the government reported that the country now has 420 million Internet users, or 31.8 percent of the population. At the same time, the country has 277 million people who use the Web through their mobile phones.
"The Internet has become important to the foundation of our country's information infrastructure," said Xi Guohua, deputy minister of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. "To improve our economy, to improve society, and to raise people's living standards, the Internet is becoming more and more vital."