The information industry has become China's economic mainstay. In 2004, the added value of China's information industry, the world's third largest, stood at 950 billion yuan. Output value, sales and profits of electronic and telecoms manufacturing all outstripped those of traditional industries, making the greatest contribution to national economic growth.
By the end of 2004, China had boasted 74,429 MB export broadband capacity, 670,000 websites, 430,000 China-coded domain names, 41.6 million computers with Internet access, and 94 million Internet users, ranking second in the world. A host of web-based services have thrived, among them network education, online banking, E-commerce, Internet advertising, news, video, and charged postal services, Internet Protocol (IP) telephone, SMS text-messaging, online recruitment, information services and games.
Posts and telecommunications are important elements 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. As for the construction of the telecommunications network, a basic transmission network featuring large capacity and high speed is now in place. It covers the whole country, with the optical cable as the mainstay, supplemented by satellite and digital microwave systems. By 2000 China had completed its "8 Across, 8 Down" optical cable grid, linking the capitals of all provinces and autonomous regions and over 90 percent of counties and cities. Every provincial or autonomous regional capital, with the exception of the Tibetan capital Lhasa, is connected by at least two optical cables. By the end of 2004, the nation's optical cables extended 3.377 million km. In coastal and economically advanced inland areas, optical cable has reached villages, towns, urban residential communities, and high-rise buildings, thus becoming the main technology for transmitting information. 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, the world's longest, passing through 20 countries in its journey from Shanghai to Frankfurt in Germany. So far, China has established telecommunication business relations with more than 200 countries and regions in the world.
At the end of 2004, China had 647.26 million telephone subscribers, 312.44 million fixed lines and 334.82 million mobile phone subscribers, constituting the world's second-largest telephone network. All cities above the county level had program-controlled switchboards, and program-controlled telephones made up 99.8 percent of the total. There were 8.7 million circuits, all of them automated, for long-distance business. China started mobile telecommunication business in 1987 and the mobile network now covers all large and medium-sized cities, and more than 2,800 small cities and county seats. International roaming service exists with over 150 countries and regions all over the world.
The public data telecommunications network has taken initial shape, with group data exchange network, digital data network, computer Internet, multimedia telecom network, and frame relay network as the mainstays, covering over 90 percent of counties and cities in China, making it one of the world's largest public data telecommunications networks. 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 broadcasting.