Telecommunications industry in china

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The telecommunications industry in China has undergone several reforms in its history, which have resulted in many restructuring of the domestic telecommunications market. The Chinese market for telecommunications service providers is dominated by three state-owned companies, which were formed by a reform of the State Council in 2008: China Mobile (Chinese: 中国 移动), China Unicom (Chinese: 中国 联通) and China Telecom (Chinese: 中国 电信). In the area of ​​network equipment, Huawei and Zhong Xing Telecommunication Equipment Company Limited ( ZTE ) are nationally and internationally important Chinese companies.


The first telegraph line in China was put into operation in Shanghai in June 1871 and installed by the Danish company Great Northern Telegraph Company (GNTC). On the Chinese side, the first telephone line was laid and controlled independently in October 1877. The first state institution for telecommunications was established in 1880 as the General Bureau for Telegraphs. The two foreign companies GNTC and the British Eastern Extension Australia and China Telegraph Company (EEACT) first offered telephone services in Shanghai in 1882. In the years that followed, other foreign companies entered the Chinese market, which until then had been free of regulation and government supervision.

The years 1901 to 1978

In November 1901, the Chinese government established the Ministry of Post and Transport, which was to manage and supervise telecommunications in the country as a state authority. From 1908 the Ministry of Post and Transport began to buy up and nationalize the private telecommunications providers.

In the Sino-Japanese War of 1937–1945, China's telecommunications infrastructure was largely destroyed. In the following years, the development of telecommunications came to a standstill during the civil war of 1946–1949 between the Kuomintang and the Chinese Communist Party .

After the emergence of the People's Republic of China, the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications (MPT) was founded on November 1, 1949, which was responsible for the strategic and conceptual planning and design of post and telecommunications in the country. Only the military and the rail industry were allowed to manage their own networks. At the same time, foreign companies were banned from doing business in the telecommunications and postal services in China. A state monopoly administration was thus established in the telecommunications and postal sector.

The years 1978 to 1998

In the course of Deng Xiaoping's reform and opening-up policy , the telecommunications industry was to be transferred from a political instrument to a commercial sector. The provision of telecommunications was initially still in the hands of the MPT and its subordinate postal and telecommunications administrations, which, as state companies, managed the services and networks in the respective provinces . In 1988, however, three administrative offices of the MPT were spun off as a company. Entrepreneurial tasks should be clearly separated from the MPT, which should only be responsible for regulations, guidelines and strategic planning of the postal and telecommunications industry. On April 27, 1995, the MPT registered the telecommunications company China Directorate of Telecommunications under the brand name China Telecom . Previously, on July 14, 1994, the China United Communications Corporation ( Unicom ) was founded as a second network operator and telecommunications provider with the help of three ministries and 13 state-owned companies to further open up the market . For the first time there were two competitors in China's telecommunications industry, whereas in practice China Telecom, which was founded by the MPT, continued to dominate.

In 1998 the Chinese government decided to restructure the MPT. In April of the same year the Ministry of Information Industry ( MII) was created from the MPT and the Ministry of Electronic Industry (MEI) and parts of other ministries. It was supposed to regulate the telecommunications market in China, create guidelines and promote competition.

The years 1999 to 2008

Since 1999, the Chinese telecommunications industry has gone through three major and profound reorganizations. In order to end the dominance of China Telecom, the company was split into four separate and independent companies during the first reorganization in February 1999, which should be responsible for different business areas. These were Fixed Line Services (China Telecom), Cellular Services (China Mobile), Paging (Guoxin Paging), and Satellite Communications (China Satelite).

The People's Republic of China joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) on December 10, 2001 and announced the second round of reorganization of the domestic telecommunications market the next day. This included that China Telecom was geographically divided into two companies, which were initially only allowed to operate in North and South China. In the north, China Telecom Nord and the two companies Netcom and Jitong were merged to form the China Network Communications Group Company (Netcom Group). In the south and west, the provinces were combined under the China Telecommunications Group Corporation (China Telecom Group).

Until 2007, despite reforms, the telecommunications industry remained imbalanced. Due to its increased popularity, China Mobile had become the market leader with a 48% market share in the entire telecommunications market. China Telecom Group held 24% of the market and Netcom Group and Unicom each accounted for 13%.

The years 2008 to today

In order to balance the imbalance in the market, the MII and the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) initiated a third reform on May 23, 2008 to restructure the telecommunications market. The entire market was concentrated on the companies China Telecom, Unicom and China Mobile as full-service providers, which were allowed to operate throughout the People's Republic. For the first time in China, three providers with relatively equal financial strength, number of customers and network resources faced each other.

Market overview

In May 2018, the number of households in China with registered landlines was 189.4 million. The market share in 2014 was 48.6% on China Telecom, 40.7% on China Unicom and 10.7% on China Mobile and others. The number of mobile phone contracts signed in May 2018 was 1.5 billion. The market share in 2016 was 63.9% to China Mobile, 19.9% ​​to China Unicom and 16.2% to China Telecom. The revenues of the entire telecommunications industry in the People's Republic of China amounted to approx. 63.7 billion euros from May 2017 to May 2018. According to estimates by experts, the market value of the wireless telecommunications market is expected to rise to 152.1 billion euros by 2021.


The direct supreme state regulatory authority is the Ministry of Information Industry. It is responsible for the planning, administration and technical standardization of telecommunications in China. In concrete terms this is u. a. the definition of framework conditions for market organization and competition, licensing, quality controls of services, price regulation and the creation of technical standards. The MII has to coordinate many of its tasks with the State Commission for Development and Reform and carry them out together. The NDRC is in charge of the entire economic policy design and social coordination in China.

Telecommunication provider in China

Since the reorganization of the market in 2008, there have been three major telecommunications providers in China:

Network equipment supplier in China

The Chinese company Huawei Technologies is the world's largest network equipment supplier. Since the 2000s, Huawei, like its Chinese rival ZTE (Zhong Xing Telecommunication Equipment Company Limited), has been able to expand rapidly internationally and has now achieved relevant market shares in all of the world's major trading countries.


  • Bing Z. (2007): Comparative analysis of the telecommunications reforms in the Federal Republic of Germany and the People's Republic of China - A sociological-systems-theoretical observation of functional differentiation in society and organization. Munich.
  • Harwit E. (2008): China's Telecommunications Revolution. Oxford University Press.
  • He Z. (1997): A history of telecommunications in China: Development and policy implications. In: Lee, Paul SN (Ed.): Telecommunications and development in China. Cresskill. Pp. 55-87.
  • Holznagel B., Kang Y., Ricke T., Schuhmacher P. (2009): The long march of TK regulation in China. Muenster
  • Schumacher P., Pascal; Kang, Y. (2009): Telecommunication Regulation Policy. In: Holznagel et al. (Ed.): Regulating Telecommunications in the EU and China. Münster: Lit Verlag.
  • Sharkey C., Wang M. (2003): An Overview of the Telecommunications and Broadcasting Market in China, Stat-USA Market Research Reports.
  • Yan X., Pitt D., (2002): Chinese Telecommunications Policy. Artech House. Boston / London.
  • Yearbook of China Communications 2003 (in Chinese). Beijing

Individual evidence

  1. Xu, Yan; Douglas, Pitt: Chinese Telecommunications Policy . 2002, p. 9 f .
  2. ^ Zhou, He: A history of telecommunications in China: Development and policy implications . Cresskill, 1997, pp. 58 .
  3. a b Yan, Xu; Douglas, Pitt: Chinese Telecommunications Policy . 2002, p. 11 .
  4. Bernd Holznagel; Kang Yanrong; Thorsten Ricke; Pascal Schuhmacher: The long march of TK regulation in China 2009. (PDF) May 2009, accessed on July 3, 2018 .
  5. a b Xu, Yan; Douglas, Pitt: Chinese Telecommunications Policy . 2002, p. 12 .
  6. ^ Zhou, He: A history of telecommunications in China: Development and policy implications . 1997, p. 68 .
  7. ^ Yearbook of China Communications . Beijing 2003, p. 47 .
  8. a b Holznagel et al .: The long march of TC regulation in China . S. 312 .
  9. Holznagel et al .: The long march of TC regulation in China . 2009, p. 313 .
  10. Eric Herwit: China's Telecommunications Revolution . S. 62 .
  11. Holznagel et al .: The long march of TC regulation in China . 2009, p. 314 .
  12. Zou Bing: Comparative analysis of the telecommunications reforms in the Federal Republic of Germany and the People's Republic of China . 2007, p. 155-156 .
  13. Schuhmacher and Kang: Telecommunication Regulation Policy . 2009, p. 1 ff .
  14. Holznagel et al .: The long march of TC regulation in China . 2009, p. 315 .
  15. Statista: Number of fixed telephone lines in China from May 2017 to May 2018 (in millions). Retrieved May 3, 2018 .
  16. a b Marketline Report Store - Fixed Line Telecoms in China. Retrieved July 4, 2018 .
  17. Statista: Number of mobile cell phone subscriptions in China from May 2017 to May 2018 (in millions). Retrieved May 3, 2018 .
  18. Statista: Revenue of the telecommunications industry in China from April 2017 to April 2018. Retrieved on May 3, 2018 .
  19. Marketline Report Store - Wireless Telecommunication Services in China. Retrieved July 4, 2018 .
  20. Zou Bing: Comparative analysis of the telecommunications reforms in the Federal Republic of Germany and the People's Republic of China . 2007, p. 162 f .
  21. Silke Bigalke: Nokia is making a comeback. Retrieved May 3, 2018 .