The message that the APEC conference in Thailand delivered to the rest of the world was similar to the one that came out of the ITU conference in Geneva:
‘China has reached critical economic mass’
I am very impressed with the role of the Australian Prime Minister John Howard has played in this respect. He has lifted the international profile of Australia and I give him full marks for his efforts in relation to China. Thanks to his government’s diplomatic activities, many doors have opened for Australian organisations to play a key role in that country.
This applies across the board. Our minerals, of course, are always eagerly sought after by China, but we are now in a position to also use Australia’s favourable position to move beyond our traditional wares.
In Geneva I heard that China needs to significantly increase its spending in education and Australia should be well-positioned to play a key role here. The Olympic Games have already forged many sporting and cultural links that are currently producing results; and many other industries should be able to jump on this bandwagon.
The government has opened the door and is steering Australia in the right direction. But Australians will have to actually grasp this opportunity and get to work on their own plans to become involved in this exciting new market. This is something the government can’t do for them. Australia doesn’t have a good track record in overseas trade, but the government has now created a golden opportunity for the country – one that should not be missed.
At the telecoms conference in Geneva I was also asked to comment on the various developments in Asia, and to that end I asked our senior Asia researcher, Peter Evans, to prepare some highlights for me to use during my interviews.
Peter’s notes on China are reproduced below and I hope they will go towards helping our telecoms industry to acquire a share of the burgeoning Chinese telecoms market.
China, led by its rapidly expanding mobile market and an equally energetic Internet market, continues to be the standout performer in Asia’s dynamic telecom market.
One of the world’s booming telecommunications markets, China has been experiencing telecom investment and revenue growth of around 30% per annum over the last few years.
Total Investment in 2002 (est): US$40 billion
Total Revenue in 2002 (est): US$60 billion
In relative terms the growth in fixed line subscribers in China has slowed slightly. Nonetheless, the market has an annual growth of around 20% and by end-2002, the total fixed line subscribers had reached 215 million, representing a fixed-line teledensity of almost 17%.
Growth in China’s mobile industry has been continuing its extraordinary run. Following a 74% rise in mobile subscribers during 2001, China continued its strong mobile growth at an annual rate of around 40% through 2002 and into 2003. It had reached 234 million mobile subscribers by June 2003. China is the largest mobile market in the world in terms of subscribers, having passed the US in 2001. The country is expected to have a quarter of the world’s mobile subscribers (350 million) by end-2004. China has postponed any decision on Third Generation (3G) mobile licensing until 2004.
The telecom industry is watching China with interest following its entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO) in late 2001. It came at a time when the country’s telecommunication market had already gone through a period of enormous transformation. In the final WTO accession agreement, China agreed to a staged opening up of its previously heavily protected telecommunications sector. In the case of domestic and international fixed line telecommunications, for example, during the first three years after accession, foreign investors will be permitted to hold up to 25% equity in Beijing, Guangzhou, and Shanghai. By 2006, this will be increased to 35% (which will include 14 cities beyond the original three). And by 2007, foreign investors will be allowed 49% equity across the entire country.
2003 Asia – Volume 3 – China (Annual report)
China (Web reports)
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