Given the floor, they again pushed the concept of a rigidly policed internet that has given rise to two of the world's 10 most valuable companies: Alibaba Group Holding
.That rapid ascendancy prompted former Google honcho Eric Schmidt to declare the internet will split down the middle within the next decade, as authoritarian governments adopt China's all-encompassing controls, reported Bloomberg News.It highlighted that on one side there is a cyberspace arena that espouses open communication while the other is a walled-off, thoroughly scrubbed world where many are eager to sign away their data in exchange for services."At China's most important tech industry conference, Mr Ma and a clutch of government officials stressed it's the country's destiny to become an internet power and called for more balanced governance of cyberspace.China's regulators have trumpeted its concept of "cyber-sovereignty" since the conference made its debut in 2014. However, the dichotomy between the American and Chinese tech industries has never attracted as much scrutiny as today when the world's two richest countries are butting heads in a conflict that may shape a new world order.As US giants like Google and Facebook come under fire for privacy violations and enabling hate speech, their Chinese counterparts are touting theirs as the superior model: one geared towards the interests of the state."The Chinese economy is a vast ocean. Storms cannot disrupt it," Mr Ma told delegates. "This ocean holds massive market potential and also great room for innovation. I believe this isn't just a development opportunity for the internet industry but for all sectors. It's not just an opportunity for China but for the entire world."Remarks from Chinese President Xi Jinping read out at the start of the conference called for "mutual respect" in cyberspace between the two nations. The current rift in their approaches has, however, profound implications and may bar the likes of Facebook Inc and Alphabet Inc from any meaningful presence in the world's largest internet and mobile arena.It's another manifestation of what former US Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson called an 'economic iron curtain' dividing the world if the two nations fail to resolve their strategic differences.Unlike the relatively hands-off American model, the Chinese approach is geared toward one over-arching imperative-propelling and safeguarding the ruling Communist Party. Anything deemed to undermine that objective, from pornography and addictive games to pockets of dissent, is rooted out when discovered. Critics of the model say players like Alibaba and Tencent thrive because Beijing dampens competition by making it nigh-impossible for global players such as Facebook to operate. They say the government's heavy hand and unpredictability is counter-productive.Regardless, China is playing the long game of selling its concept of a closely controlled internet to the developing world - alongside the technology needed to pull it off. Indeed, the Communist Party's vision of a web where governments pull the strings could wind up the model for the next billion users.