SDSC Senior Programmer/Analyst Cindy Zheng to Appear on Voice of America's China Forum

SDSC senior programmer/analyst Cindy Zheng has been invited to appear on Voice of America's China Forum television program to discuss China's information revolution. The interview is scheduled to air on July 10 at 9:00 am - 10:00 am eastern time.

This will not be the first time that Zheng has been a guest on Voice of America (VOA). Zheng was initially contacted by VOA in 1994 for a radio interview that focused on China and Internet issues. VOA has once again invited Zheng to speak about issues relating to China and the Internet. She will appear on China Forum to discuss the current challenges that China faces with the advent of increased Internet access.

Established in September 1994, China Forum is the first simulcast show of VOA and reaches an immense audience. A television signal from the show is relayed via AsiaSat and PanAmSat, enabling viewers in the Far East to watch the show. In addition to television viewers, milions of listeners tune in to the program as well. The show invites experts and scholars to discuss important economic, politicial, cultural, and social issues pertaining to the Chinese mainland, Taiwan, and Hong Kong.

Zheng first became involved in issues related to China and the Internet through SDSC founder and director Sid Karin. Karin serves as a member of the Program Advisory Group (PAG) to the Key Studies Development Project (KSDP). This is a major World Bank funded project intended to upgrade the Chinese infrastructure for graduate level research and education. In addition to Karin, the PAG consists of five senior Chinese academic scientists and one each from Canada, Japan, and England. A major component of the KSDP is a prototype national network and a mini-supercomputer center. Karin's expertise with these technologies made his participation particularly desirable

In 1990-91, Zheng helped to evaluate their first metropolitan area network plan. In 1993, during her first personal trip to Beijing, Zheng was appointed Karin's representative and charged with the responsibility of finding out the status of the project. At that time, there were no Internet links in China. Karin and Zheng both felt that an international link would accelerate project development in China.

While in Beijing, Zheng visited the institutions that had been conducting network research and gave talks to promote the idea of China joining the Internet. Zheng in turn listened to the network researchers of Beijing describe networking problems and areas of confusion. Zheng worked to solve any problems that could potentially impede the progress being made on the China/Internet project.

When she returned to the United States, Zheng wrote a trip report that was first published in China News Digest, a network-based news group staffed by volunteers, and then later published in other telecommunications magazines. Zheng's trip report evoked worldwide interest in China's access to the Internet, and above all, evoked Chinese interest in this project.

After the trip, Zheng organized a network group called CINET-L. CINET-L encompassed the Chinese networking sites, network experts, policy people, vendors (mostly U.S. telecommunications), and other organizations from numerous countries that were attempting to help Chinese networking professionals overcome various technical and political obstacles.

In 1994, the first two Chinese Internet links were operating and VOA requested a radio interview with Zheng.

Zheng has since maintained contact with the Chinese sites and is the chief editor for the semi-monthly newsletter that CINET-L publishes to aid with the information/technology exchange between China and the rest of the world. The editorial team is composed entirely of volunteers and organized under China News Digest.

Until 1993, the Chinese government had access to very little information about the Internet and was unable to perceive its true value. Zheng and other networking experts who collaborated on this project made a conscious effort to educate the higher officials on the benefits of networking, so that they would enact favorable policies toward network development. The Chinese network is in use and the flux of information flows freely, although with still limited bandwidth (64k). The Chinese government is concerned about the different ideologies out on the net and has begun to restrict access. Those in favor of promoting Chinese networking would like to keep access unresetricted. Zheng feels that an open Internet, free of censorship, is beneficial to both China and to the world in terms of business opportunities and changing political climates.