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Wireless Internet Vital to China
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In contrast with the continuing optimism about China's Internet development, Robin Li, chairman and CEO of Baidu.com, Inc, the country's leading search engine company, is not completely satisfied.

"Despite the fact that China has a huge number of netizens and that more than 10 Internet companies have been listed in Nasdaq and Hong Kong, I'm not satisfied with the development of the Internet in China," said Li.

Li made his remarks at a panel discussion on the Future of Internet in China on Sunday afternoon at the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2006, which was held in Boao of Hainan Province from April 21 to 23.

There are many problems challenging China's Internet industry, according to Li.

Although China claims to be the No 2 in the world in terms of the number of netizens, the Internet penetration rate in the country is less than 10 percent which means 9 out of 10 people don't have Internet access, he said.

The market value of the seven listed companies including Baidu, Tencent, Sina and Sohu adds up to US$13 billion compared with a market value estimated to be US$50 billion for Yahoo Japan alone, he said.

How to change this situation? Li suggested wireless Internet application technologies.

Li said that in the US the number of Internet users is larger than the number of mobile phone subscribers, and in some Asian countries like Japan and South Korea, these two numbers are similar. However, the ratio in China was 1:3.8.

In Li's opinion, this was a problem but also a good opportunity.

He said third generation wireless technologies (3G) would be in large scale use during the 2008 Beijing Olympics and this would help to increase the number of Internet users.

"If wireless Internet can develop in a favorable environment, 100 to 200 million handset subscribers could become Internet users through 3G wireless technology and be able to enjoy the high-quality services." Li said.

(China.org.cn by staff reporter Yuan Fang, April 24, 2006)

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