China's IT Develops at Tremendous Pace

During the eighth Five-Year Plan period, most common urban residents of China hardly felt the influence of the information industry on their lives. However, nowadays, they have voiced mounting complaints about the service quality of the telecom industry just as they did about the quality of sneakers, water heaters and furniture in those years

During the ninth Five-Year Plan period, China's information industry has emerged prominently as a new growth point of China's national economic development, becoming the principal part of hi-tech industry and the representative of new productivity. Information industry not only has exerted significant influence on Chinese people's daily life, more importantly, it has become an important indication of China's comprehensive national strength as well. It is acknowledged as the strategic industry for China's economic and social development in the next century.

Industry Sees Rapid Development

During the ninth Five-Year Plan period, the annual increase rate of China's information equipment manufacturing and service industries has stayed at over three times as much as that of the GNP. The gross output value of electronic information products manufacture (software manufacture included) surged from 245.7 billion yuan in 1995 to 778.2 billion yuan in 1999. The gross value of communication services ballooned from 98.9 billion yuan in 1995 to211.3 billion yuan in 1999. This remarkable development speed has laid a foundation for China to become a large information technological product manufacturer. In the year 2000, China will no longer be a country which can only produce color TVs. The country, which used to produce mainly low-grade consumer goods, has now comprehensively effected a shift to the manufacture of investment-related hi-tech products.

Program-controlled switchboard is a crucial product in realizing the "group breakthrough" in the manufacture of information technological equipment. During the ninth Five-Year Plan period. China completely changed the situation featuring the domination of program-controlled switchboard by the "Eight-Power Allied Forces". Of the newly installed program-controlled switchboards in the public network of telecommunications in 1998, 98 percent was homemade equipment. The market share of the type China developed independently exceeded 50 percent. In 1999, the routing product (key network equipment) produced by several Chinese enterprises made its debut in the market, which represents another major breakthrough in the manufacture of China's information equipment.

During the ninth Five-Year Plan period, computer, standing side by side with the program-controlled switchboard, has become another crucial product in realizing the "group breakthrough". In 1996, homemade computers, presented by "Legend", are a domestic brand having a leading market share for the first time on the Chinese market. In 1998, the occupancy rate of China's own brand microcomputers reached 72 percent in the domestic market. In 1998, enterprises producing color TVs among the domestic top 100 electronic enterprises lost their first place for the first time. The fact that investment-categorized electronic product manufacturers outdid consumer-oriented electronic product-making enterprises was regarded as a milestone in the development of manufacturing industry. Presently, China has been able to produce nearly all the computer components with the exception of CPU and other core parts. These parts and components are used in foreign computers of various brands. In the field of large computer, at the end of the eighth Five-Year Plan period, the peak value of Shuguang (twilight) 1000 reached 2.5 billion per second, while the arithmetic speed of the peak value of the recently published Shenwei-I ("Invincible Might") came to 384 billion floating-points per second, ranking 48th among the world's top 500 supercomputers now in business operation. Its main technological indexes and functions have reached advanced international level. China has become the third country after the United States and Japan, capable of developing such computer of high performance. During the ninth Five-Year Plan period, China has carried out a comprehensive rearrangement for the development of information industry so as to promote the formation of several enterprise groups, which are internationally competitive, and set up an information industry system which may grow up independently.

IT Becomes a Strategic Industry in Promoting Structural Readjustment

During the ninth Five-Year Plan period, China's information industry has not only made its contribution to the national economy and played its role in promoting other industries, but has also become a strategic industry boosting the readjustment of China's economic structure.

In the ninth Five-Year Plan period, the popularity rate of telephone has reached 16 percent, in urban areas, 29 percent. The proportion of the administrative villages, which have telephone services, hit 85 percent. By the end of the ninth Five-Year Plan period, fixed telephone and mobile telephone subscribers will have reached 140 million and 73 million, respective increases being 100 million and 69 million over the end of the eighth Five-Year Plan period. Users of data and multi-media communications will have reached nearly 6 million. The scales of fixed communication network and mobile communication network will rank second and third in the world respectively.

The formal opening of China's public computer Internet in 1996 marked the rise of the new economy which takes Internet industry as main characteristics. Since then, a series of "golden" projects-- "golden bridge", "golden pass", "golden card", "golden tax", etc, were put into operation successively. In several short years, China have established more than 300 ISP (Internet Services Provider) companies and more than 1,000 ICP (Internet Content Provider) companies in succession. According to the statistics from the CNNIC (China Internet Network Information Center), China has had more than 169 million netizens and more than 15,000 Chinese websites. The application of Internet in China is developing from general information browsing to the Internet economy.

The scale of the information infrastructure and its influence on the production and operation mode of the traditional industry has greatly impacted China's traditional industry. Meanwhile, it has also brought about new technologies and new application space to traditional industries such as transportation, electric power, iron and steel, automobile and machinery, as well as finance, insurance, and other service trades. Developing the applied technology urgently needed in the readjustment and upgrading of the industrial structure, the renovation and improvement of traditional industries, the promotion of industrial development and the development of informationization has become an extremely important part of the expansion of information industry and will finally affect the reform of China's industrial structure and state-owned institutions in the future.

(People's Daily 09/25/2000)