It is a pleasure and a privilege to join colleagues in wishing everyone in the community of the World Internet Conference (WIC) much happiness, success and good health in the Year of the Ox.
The Internet is the greatest vehicle for connecting people developed in human history, far surpassing all forms of transportation and all other telecommunication technologies. It has become an increasingly comprehensive platform for supporting economic production and for delivering goods and services in business, for collaboration in science and technology, for the production, distribution and consumption of cultural works, and for social exchange. The WIC builds on the technology of the Internet to bring together the various communities interested in the use of the Internet and the further development of business, scientific, cultural and social interactions through that use.
The past year has been a turbulent one for the world, with the COVID-19 pandemic, and the confinement measures introduced to manage its impact, disrupting the physical connections to which we had become accustomed in the workplace, education and tourism as a result of greater openness and cheaper travel. Despite the disruption of physical connections, however, the world was able to continue - even if in a much reduced and different manner - the conducting of business, the pursuit of education, the enjoyment of cultural products and social communication. The Internet was the main vehicle that enabled this partial continuity of economic, cultural and social life. The pandemic, and the measures of confinement and restriction introduced to manage its evolution, would have been far more difficult to endure without the Internet.
We look to the Year of the Ox with hope for re-opening and for the further development of the connections so fundamental to a stable world of understanding and tolerance. The Internet will be a fundamental part of re-opening, as it was for managing the adverse effects of confinement and restriction. The WIC has an extremely important role to play in fostering the continuation of the connections enabled by the Internet. I wish all much success and happiness.
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