China’s Information Policy

29 Pages Posted: 15 May 2012

See all articles by Luyan Li

Luyan Li

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: September 1, 2003


In recent years China’s most spectacular growth rate occurs in the telecommunications sector. In 1978, China only has 3.69 million telephones, with a teledensity of 0.3%, lower than one tenth of the world average. The number of telephones in 1980 is the same as the 1905 level of United States, 1947 of Britain and 1958 of Japan. Domestic and international lines are so scarce that many foreigners called China as “a country without telephone”. But with huge government investment in networks of optical cables, digital microwave, satellites, mobile & data telecommunications, the development of information industry has outpaced the GDP and become the largest industrial sector in China’s national economy. By 1999, the output of color TV sets, sound equipment and telephones had leaped to first place in the world. In May 2001, the total number of telephone users in China reached 270 million, accounting for 21 percent of the nation’s population. Although at present the teledensity is still comparatively low, China ranks the second in the world in terms of both the capacity of fixed telephony network and the size of the mobile network. Minister Wu Jichuan of Ministry of Information Industry has estimated that China will become the biggest telecommunication market in both number of telecommunication users and network capacity within 5 years. In early 1980s, China began to develop satellite broadcasting and cable TV. Over 20,000 ground receiving stations of satellite education channels, 2,000 cable TV stations and 2.49 million miles of cable TV transmission networks have been constructed. The number of cable TV subscribers has been increasing by an average rate of 5 million per year and already surpassed 90 million, ranking the biggest market in the world. The home penetration rate of cable TV is over 50% all over the country, higher than that of telephone and is still increasing by 30% each year. At present, the cable TV network covers all towns and 93% of administrative villages.

Suggested Citation

Li, Luyan, China’s Information Policy (September 1, 2003). TPRC 2003, Available at SSRN:

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