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What to expect when China hosts 3rd World Internet Conference

WUZHEN, Zhejiang -- The third World Internet Conference (WIC), to be held in Wuzhen between Nov. 16 and Nov. 18, will collect government officials, bushiness bosses and academics to discuss the future of the digital economy.

The following are some highlights to be closely watched for this year's event.

--- China's leadership to update Internet policy

Last year's keynote speaker Chinese President Xi Jinpingwill address this year's conference by video, according to the organizer, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC).

This year, Liu Yunshan, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, will address the conference on innovation in Internet development.

China considers the Internet a key driver of future world economic growth and has introduced policies accordingly.

The CPC Central Committee acknowledged in October that the country needs breakthroughs in high-performance computing, mobile communication, quantum communication, core chips and operating systems.

More guidelines on innovation are expected at the conference.

--- Baidu's smart cars

The WIC is an opportunity for tech firms to show off their latest products.

This year, driverless cars designed by Chinese search engine giant Baidu take center stage.

On the day before the conference, a fleet of 15 blue-striped cars cruised one of Wuzhen's main thoroughfares. The cars can analyze traffic flow and control their maneuvers automatically, according to Cao Haitao of Baidu's artificial intelligence unit.

Baidu's senior vice president Wang Jin said the company has sufficient expertise in high-precision electronic mapping, positioning, sensing and decision-making and control systems to mass produce smart vehicles by 2020.

--- Brainstorming among Internet gurus

A number of Chinese enterprises are now considered some of the world's top tech firms, and their bosses some of the the most talked-about gurus.

This year's conference will open the floor to Alibaba's Jack Ma, Tencent's Pony Ma, Baidu's Robin Li, Xiaomi's Lei Jun, Sohu's Charles Zhang and JD.com's Richard Liu. Their foreign counterparts will include LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, Qualcomm president Derek Aberle, Microsoft vice executive president Shen Xiangyang, and Nokia's chair Risto Siilasmaa.

Also invited are foreign government officials and telecom regulators, who will brainstorm ways to better govern cyberspace.

--- Ancient water-town's rebirth in the age of the Internet

The town of Wuzhen is well-known for its extensive network of canals. Drawing on traditional water-town architecture, prize-winning architect Wang Shu designed the imposing Wuzhen Internet International Convention Center in keeping with its surroundings.

Wang, the first Chinese to win the Pritzker Prize, believes his design, as well as Wuzhen's canal network, encapsulates the spirit of the Internet.

"The town's land is fragmented, but all the pieces are connected by water. Scattered around are low residential buildings instead of high rises," Wang said. "This is the spirit of the Internet - non-integrated on surface but connected underneath."

Today, Wuzhen is a vibrant Internet town. Connections are widely available and the Internet is part of most residents' day-to-day activities.

Feng Peixiang, a local retiree, has his health monitored and reads the news by iPadevery day. He wears a watch that sends a signal to the rescue center if he is in difficulties. He has even consulted doctors in Shanghai without leaving home.

"It is amazing to live in the time of the Internet," he said.

Zhejiang Province, home to Alibaba, is at the forefront of Internet industries. According to the CAC, about 80 percent of the nation's online retail, 70 percent online exports, and 60 percent online B2B transactions are conducted through Zhejiang.

[ Editor: zyq ]

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