The training of cybersecurity talent is an urgent and important task for China's internet development, according to a senior official with the nation's web watchdog.
Cybersecurity talent is in short supply, "which presents us with a great challenge in preventing online attacks", said Zhao Zeliang, director of cybersecurity coordination for the Cyberspace Administration of China.
In his view, China can catch up with Western nations' cybersecurity protection by buying and learning their products and technologies. "But if our talent is insufficient, or we are unable to train talent, our internet development will face difficulties," Zhao said.
The country has more than 751 million netizens, but only produces around 8,000 cybersecurity graduates every year, he said. Although educational efforts have increased since 2015, "the talent gap, obviously, is still large".
To effectively fill the gap, education bases are being established at five universities, including Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunication, Shanghai Jiaotong University and Sichuan University, according to the administration.
"We've also joined hands with the Ministry of Education, preparing to set up an academic institute to cultivate security talent," Zhao said.
Meanwhile, the National Computer Network Emergency Response Technical Team and Coordination Center of China also encourages "white hats" - hackers who help companies identify security risks - by giving them rewards.
"The move kills two birds with one stone. People with hacking skills can play a role in prevention, while we can learn about security problems at the same time," said Li Jia, deputy director of the center's operations department.
Qihoo 360, Chinese largest security software provider, said the move also helps provide legitimate jobs to hackers and guide them on the right path.