Embracing ICT: Wiring 1.3 Billion People
Sure, You Know The Fact: There Are 1.3 Billion People in China
With just over 1.3 billion people (1,330,044,605 as of mid-2008), China is the world's largest and most populous countryICTChina:Embracing ICT - Wiring 1.3 Billion People^1^.
As the world's population is approximately 6.7 billion, China represents a full 20% of the world's population so one in every five people on the planet is a resident of China. China's population growth has been somewhat slowed by the one child policy, in effect since 1979ICTChina:Embracing ICT - Wiring 1.3 Billion People^1^.
China is a immense source of untapped "resource" for the development of ICT projects and businesses, just by the size of the population alone. This makes it a prime location for investors and new businesses to start up with such a large market coming into it's own.
Information and Communication Technology (ICT) 's Role
The term ICT was introduced due to the use of electronic communication. Information and Communication Technology education (ICT) The study of the technology used to handle information and aid communication. The phrase was coined by Stevenson in his 1997 report to the UK government and promoted by the new National Curriculum documents for the UK in 2000ICTChina:Embracing ICT - Wiring 1.3 Billion People^2^. In addition to the subjects included in Information Technology (IT), ICT emcompasses areas such as telephony, broadcast media and all types of audio and video processing and transmissionICTChina:Embracing ICT - Wiring 1.3 Billion People^1^.
The widespread use of ICT is life altering, and changes whether good or bad have influence over whoever they affect. Such is the reach of ICT that localized events send "ripple" effects throughout the globe. ICT has been extending its reach with each new
innovation to bring technology to people, even to those living in hard-to-access reaches of China. Studies at the company and country levels have shown that information technology is positively related to corporate and national economic performanceICTChina:Embracing ICT - Wiring 1.3 Billion People^10^.
Economic growth depends heavily on the efficient and effective use of the country's resources, which include land, capital, labour and increasingly todayICTChina:Embracing ICT - Wiring 1.3 Billion People^5^, knowledge and technologyICTChina:Embracing ICT - Wiring 1.3 Billion People^2^. This increases the efficiency of many parts of the market, where information is critical and the network is the fastest way to engage over long distances. Notably, economic contribution is one of the more outstanding positive effects of embracing ICT, as it is one of the most dynamic market sectors in China's economic boom.
Take A Deeper Look Into Specific Cases of ICT in China
The Chinese leadership believes that ICT, especially the Internet can transform the economy toward greater efficiency, bolster its national security and simultaneously shore up Communist party control and its administration of the county through a term they call "informatization". They do of course have their reservations since it has been observed that the Internet seems to be advancing democracy in its own rightICTChina:Embracing ICT - Wiring 1.3 Billion People^4^.
Despite embracing ICT for economic boosts, there has always been a need for a certain level of containment needed for political content especially on the vast expanse of the Internet. Ideas confined to an individual where it might not have caused any harm or change can now be easily propagated to viewers all over, to international "surfers" as well. In China, a wide range of topics are considered sensitive or controversial by the government.ICTChina:Embracing ICT - Wiring 1.3 Billion People^2^Media are heavily controlled and journalists are frequently punished for publishing information or stating positions that deviate from official Communist Party doctrine. Organized dissent and criticism of the Communist Party are not tolerated. Coverage of any group that can organize large numbers of people is considered threatening. The Falun Gong spiritual movement, in particular, has been targeted for repression in recent years.
China implements access controls for ISPs, ICPs, Internet subscribers, and cybercafé users. Access control has always been part of China's Internet filtering system: in February 1994, one year before the Internet became commercially available to Chinese users, the State Council gave the Minister of Public Security overall responsibility for supervision of the InternetICTChina:Embracing ICT - Wiring 1.3 Billion People^8^.
Regulations for the Safety Protection of Computer Information Systems, State Council Order No. 147.
China is stepping into the Information Age with the world and ICT is enthusiastically embraced at all levels of Chinese society. China continues to upgrade its telecom infrastructure in its drive toward global levels of productivity in its industrial output. According to China's fast-growing number of mobile phoine accouts has risen more than 8 percent since the start of the year to 592 million, while demand for traditional fixed-line service is fallingICTChina:Embracing ICT - Wiring 1.3 Billion People^11^. According to the Communication University of China, the country has a domestic audience of over 1.2 billion radio listeners and 1.2 billion television viewers. It has 282 radio stations, 314 television stations and 1,913 broadcasting stations at the municipal level. CCTV, the country's largest TV station, has 14 channels, including English and international channels, and broadcasts via satellite feeds to over 90 percent of the country. In terms of internet access,
The numbers of Internet users and computers connected to Internet in China by July 2005 have respectively reached 103 millions and 45.6 millions while the corresponding data in October 1997 were just 620,000 and 299,000. The numbers of registered domain names under CN and Websites reached 622534 and 677500 by 2005 July, while the corresponding data in October 1997 were 4066 and 1500.
CNNIC (China Internet Information Center)
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As this fast development of internet is taking place in China, internet become an useful tool for communications among millions of Chinese netizens. What happens right now is that the behaviors of these netizens stir a huge impact on the whole societyICTChina:Embracing ICT - Wiring 1.3 Billion People^2^. On one hand, public opinions from the cyberspace promote the political participation to some extent and build a close relationship between policy-maker and the publicICTChina:Embracing ICT - Wiring 1.3 Billion People^9^. On the other hand, internet provides Chinese people with a optional choice to information, rather than being keen on the mass media, which is under censorship and tightly controlled by Chinese government. This trend even force the traditional media to accept the view from the internet.
From 2002, China became the first Nation in term of highest number of telephone usersICTChina:Embracing ICT - Wiring 1.3 Billion People^5^. This is not only a reflection of its population size but a direct result of improved connectivity in the recent years. Until September 2004, the total fixed phone users were 307 million, within which the city users occupied 2/3 and the remaining were rural usersICTChina:Embracing ICT - Wiring 1.3 Billion People^7^. Since a huge portion of its population living in rural China, the fixed phone usage rate of rural area is much lower than urban usage rate which is 36.9% (for national wide, it is 24.5%). Now the mobile phone user, which is mostly used by the residents of urban area are 320 million which is 13 million more than the users of fixed phone among which almost half of fixed phone is used for non-resident public and business purposesICTChina:Embracing ICT - Wiring 1.3 Billion People^3^.
The number of internet users also increased fast during the last 7 years. From 1997, China launched internet survey by the China Internet Network Information Center, after that they did it semiannuallyICTChina:Embracing ICT - Wiring 1.3 Billion People^5^. In Figure 4, we show the development of the total users of internet in the country. From the beginning to the most recent survey which was conducted in July 2004, the number of users grows more than 100 times. China already becomes the second largest market with 87 million of internet just followed by United State with 170 million users. Even that, the usage in term of the whole population is very low, and is only 6.7%. Compared to Korea which has more than 70% internet users, China is taking extra effort to catch up with advanced countries in the internet connectivity. Recently, the semiannual growth rate of internet users in China decreased significantly. In the fourth survey in 1999, the users doubled just in half a year; but in fourteenth survey, the growth rate remains only 9% (Figure 5). If China keeps the same rate of increase at 9% every half year and United State has no increase of number of Users, China will surpass United States and become the largest Nation in term of internet users within only 4 yearsICTChina:Embracing ICT - Wiring 1.3 Billion People^1^.
The Ministry of Information Industry announced that the average growth rate of China's ICT industry is forecasted to exceed 20% in the next five years. It also projects that software sales in China will reach US$30.8 billion by 2005. The demand for optical fiber is expected to reach 16 million kilometers by 2005, up from 6.6 million in 1999, a growth rate of more than 100%ICTChina:Embracing ICT - Wiring 1.3 Billion People^12^.
There is also digital dividing and inequality in access and usage in the internet world within and between regions in China. By looking at the domain name register under the .cn, Beijing occupies almost 25% of whole resource, and then Shanghai and Guandong which together occupy another 25% of resources. Other coast areas and oversea users register another 25%, the rest includes west and middle together only have less than remaining 25% domain name registered under .cn.
According to the recent rank by the new Digital Access Index of ITU, China has got the value of 0.43 which ranks 84 among 178 Nation or regions, and just followed by Fiji and IranICTChina:Embracing ICT - Wiring 1.3 Billion People^3^. It is not a surprising result because China's digital success has been concentrated in the areas like Beijing while in other areas the level of development is similar to that of least developed countries.