The past twelve months have been an unprecedented period when not only our normality was dramatically disrupted but health became the overriding priority of governments and citizens. However, as the Chinese saying goes, behind every challenge lies an opportunity. Throughout this difficult time, digital technologies have unleashed their true potential to benefit our society and our economies, be it through smart working, online education, telemedicine, e-commerce or new retail. Undoubtedly, consumers will never go back completely to the old world in the post-COVID era. They will continue to use the new tools they learned to master over the past twelve months, which should be taken into account by businesses in these times of uncertainty.
A positive side of the crisis is that initiatives were taken to close the digital divide and address the gap in digital skills. At the same time, it became clear that the balancing exercise between pandemic control and data privacy should be performed globally, if we want to end travel restrictions and bring the tourism industry back to life.
The World Internet Conference will surely play an ever more significant role in this matter by expanding its global footprint and engaging more internet pioneers. We all missed the annual reunion in Wuzhen in 2020, but the success of the 2020 Internet Development Forum shows that the gathering of great minds is unstoppable.
I therefore hope to meet you all at the 2021 World Internet Conference. I would like to convey my warmest greetings on the occasion of the Chinese New Year to all of you. I hope the Year of the Ox will bring us health, prosperity and good luck.
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