Spreading Telecommunications to Developing Areas in China: Telephones, the Internet and the Digital Divide a
China's overall telecommunications development during the past 20 years has been remarkable, and in 2004 the nation ranks first in the world in numbers of both mobile and fixed-line telephones, and second in the number of internet users. However, the recent growth has left the country's vast population with an internal communications and digital divide among “haves” and “have nots,” with citizen access mainly separated along economic and regional lines. This article assesses the growth of the communications divide, reasons for its occurrence, and ways political, economic and technological forces are shaping the spread of China's telecommunications tools.
a The author extends thanks for his generous help and advice to Duncan Clark, of BDA China Ltd, who was a co-author on an early version of this essay presented at the Pacific Telecommunications Conference in Honolulu, Hawaii, in January 2003. He also thanks students Wang Qinghong and Zhang Yue for research assistance in Hawaii and China.