On October 15, 2003, China successfully launched its first manned "Shenzhou-5" Spacecraft from the Jiuquan Satellite Launching Center. The "Shenzhou-5" Spacecraft sent China's first astronaut into the space and returned successfully, making China the third country in the world to independently develop and deploy the technology of a manned spaceship. China now is preparing to launch a "Shenzhou-6" Spacecraft with several astronauts aboard.
China leads in many important technological fields in astronautics with capabilities of recovery of satellites, the carrying of several satellites by one rocket, rocket technology, and the launching, test and control of static-orbit satellites, remote-sensing satellites, and communications satellites.
Before the success of "Shenzhou-5," China launched four unmanned spacecraft: first in November 1999, second in January 2001, third in March 2002, and fourth in December 2002. From the launching of its first satellite "Dongfanghong No. 1" in April 1970 to the end of 2000, China successfully launched 75 satellites, including 48 developed by China itself and 27 commercial satellites for foreign customers. China also has developed 12 models of the "Long March" series of carrier rockets capable of low-earth orbit, geostationary orbit, sun-synchronous orbit for satellites and spacecraft. In the next step, China will develop a new carrier rocket series. By the end of 2003, the "Long March" series carrier rockets had made 75 launchings, with a successful launch rate of more than 90 percent. The Jiuquan, Xichang and Taiyuan satellite launching centers are among China's internationally recognized launching sites.
The information industry has become the key industry in China. In 2003, the added value of the information industry stood at 709 billion yuan, and the size of the industry was the third in the world. Statistics show that the output value, sales volume and profit of the electronic and telecommunications equipment industries have all surpassed those of the traditional industries, making the greatest contribution to the growth of the national economy.
In China, the Internet has become an indispensable part of people's life. By the end of 2003, China had become the second in the world only to the United States in the number of Internet users. Developing rapidly were Internet on-line services, network-based education and banking; E-commerce; on-line advertisements, news, audio-visual and charged postal services; IP telephone and short cell-phone message service; on-line talent and information services; and on-line games. China's export broadband capacity in 2003 was 27,216 M, with nearly 600,000 websites, some 340,000 domain names under the country code, cn, with 30.89 million computers having access to the Internet, and 79.50 million Internet users, according to China Internet Network Information Center ("CNNIC").
Post and telecommunications are an important component of the information industry. After decades of construction and development, a national postal network has taken shape, with Beijing and other major cities as the centers, linking all cities and rural areas in China. As for telecommunications, a basic transmission network featuring a large capacity and a high speed is now in place. It covers the whole country, with the optical cables as the mainstay, and satellite and digital microwave systems as the supplement. In 1998, China completed its "eight from east to west and eight from north to south" lattice-type optical cable network, linking all the provincial capital cities and over 90 percent of counties and cities. Except Lhasa, the capital city of Tibet, each provincial or autonomous regional capital is connected by at least two optical cables. At the end of 2003, the nation's optical cables extended 2.70 million km. In the coastal and economically advanced hinterland areas, optical cable has reached townships, towns, urban residential quarters and multi-storeyed buildings, thus becoming the main technological means for transmitting information. Meanwhile, all the provinces have set up satellite communications, with more than 20,000 satellite circuits, and digital microwave routes stretching more than 60,000 km. China has participated in the construction of a number of international land and sea-bed optical cables, such as the China-Japan, China-ROK and Asia-Europe sea cables, and Asia-Europe and China-Russia land optical cables. China initiated the construction of the 27,000-km Asia-Europe Land Optical Cable, which starts from Shanghai in the east and reaches Frankfurt in Germany in the west, passing through 20 countries. It is the longest optical cable system in the world today. Today China has established telecommunication business relations with more than 200 countries and regions in the world.
At the end of 2003, the number of users of telephone reached 532 million, of which 263.31 million were fixed telephone subscribers, 268.69 million were mobile telephone subscribers, ranking as the world's second in scale. All the cities above the county level had program-controlled telephone switchboards, and program-controlled telephones made up 99.8 percent of the telephones. There were 5.782 million circuits for long-distance business, with all the circuits automated. In 1987, China started the mobile telecommunication business. At present, the mobile phone network covers all the large and medium-sized cities, and more than 2,000 small cities and county towns. China has established automatic roaming with 120 countries and regions.
Presently, the large-scale construction of the public data telecommunications network has taken initial shape, with group exchange data network, digital data network, computer Internet, multi-media telecommunications network and frame relay networks as the mainstay, covering over 90 percent of counties and cities in China. The telecommunication ability reaches 610,000 ports, making it one of the largest public data telecommunications networks in the world. Radio and TV networks continue to develop rapidly, and the number of radio and TV users is expected to exceed 200 million by 2005, when almost all villages in China will have access to radio and TV programs.
While the Chinese government has implemented a series of policies to promote the high-tech industry, most scientific research institutes specializing in developing technology now are geared to market economy operations. In recent years, the business volume of the nation's technology market has increased at an annual rate of over 50 percent. State-level high-tech development zones now number 53, and well over 600 research findings above the provincial/ministerial level have been put to use in production in these zones. In 2002, high-tech enterprises in these zones totaled 25,000, of which 1,539 had registered an annual production value of over 100 million yuan, 185 over 1 billion yuan, and ten over 10 billion yuan, with over 1 million employees. The annual output value per capita of most of these enterprises exceeded 100,000 yuan. The average annual growth rates of major economic targets of China's high-technology development zones has maintained at 60 percent for 11 years in succession.
Some non-governmental science and technology enterprises have become group corporations with an annual output value to the tune of from several hundred million or up to several billion yuan. High-tech products now account for more than 50 percent of the domestic market for such products.
Establishing export bases for high-tech products in selected state high-tech industrial development zones is an important part of the plan for developing trade by means of science and technology worked out and implemented by the Chinese government. The Beijing Zhongguancun Science and Technology Park and a number of state new- and high-tech industrial development zones in Tianjin, Shanghai, Heilongjiang, Jiangsu, Anhui, Shandong, Hubei, Guangdong, Shaanxi, Dalian, Xiamen, Qingdao and Shenzhen have been designated as the first group of export bases, thanks to their rapid overall development and rapid increase of the export volume of new- and high-tech products. As the Pearl River Delta, Yangtze River Delta and Beijing-Tianjin region have a large number of export bases of new- and high-tech products, their exports make up over 80 percent of the nation's total new- and high-tech exports.