President Xi Jinping will head the central Internet security and informatization leading group, according to a statement released after the first meeting of the group on Thursday.
Xi presided over the meeting, stressing that Internet security and informatization is a major strategic issue concerning a country's security and development as well as people's life and work.
"Efforts should be made to build our country into a cyber power," he said.
Premier Li Keqiang and Liu Yunshan, who are both members of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, are the group's deputy heads.
The group is designed to lead and coordinate Internet security and informatization work among different sectors, as well as draft national strategies, development plans and major policies in this field, Xi said.
Members of the group adopted the group's work rules and its working plan for this year at the meeting.
China has the world's largest number of Internet users but it still lags behind in development of Internet technologies, the president noted.
The digital gap between rural and urban areas remains large and the average bandwidth enjoyed by each Chinese is far less than that in some developed countries, he added.
By the end of 2013, China had about 618 million Internet users, but only 28.6 percent of them are from the countryside.
"We should be fully aware of the importance and urgency of Internet security and informatization," Xi said.
China has to balance its needs of developing IT technologies and safeguarding Internet security, the president said, describing the two issues as "two wings of a bird and two wheels of an engine."
Xi called for innovative methods to spread mainstream values and stimulate positive energy while maintaining proper guidance of online opinions in terms of timing, intensity and impact.
"Cyberspace should be made clean and chipper," Xi said.
"No Internet safety means no national security. No informatization means no modernization," Xi said, noting that cyber information flows across countries and steers technology, funding and talents.
According to the president, information resources are increasingly becoming a crucial production factor and a key part of social wealth, signaling a country's soft and competitive power.
He called for more independent innovation in core technology and the construction of infrastructures as well as enhanced abilities to collect, process, spread, utilize and secure information to better benefit the livelihood of the general public.
In Xi's view, building a cyber power calls for domestically developed solid technology, rich and comprehensive information services, prosperous cyber cultures, sound infrastructure, high-caliber talents working in Internet security and information, as well as international cooperation.
Xi stressed the need for a comprehensive plan to develop IT and cyber security technology, citing policies to support companies working in this field.
The meeting was also told that there must be legislative efforts to draft laws and regulations on managing information online, protection of key infrastructure facilities, and cleaning up cyberspace.
In addition, Xi called for the fostering of a "politically firm, professionally competent and morally upright" team.