China, China, China

  • Tim Weber
  • 25 Jan 07, 03:00 PM

The days when Davos talked about nothing but China are long gone. Now they talk about nothing but China and India.

But the numbers coming out of China are still staggering.

Wang Jianzhou, chief executive of the world's largest mobile network operator China Mobile, just mentioned in passing that his company is adding 4.5 million new subscribers every month.

There are currently about 440m mobile phone customers in the People's Republic, of which China Mobile has more than 300m under contract, he says.

And it's a market that is far from saturated. Not bad going.

Comments   Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 03:52 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Ian Shaw wrote:

According to a friend who visited China recently there is no Telephone land line infrastructure so the only sensible, and cheap, I would guess, alternative is mobile phones.

  • 2.
  • At 04:08 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Daniel wrote:

And I wonder if while at Davos you have heard anyone from China mention in passing the number of people that are being killed on the government's execution buses? It's been a couple of years now since they were introduced and I believe there has still been no story from the BBC. They are designed to take the place of the traditional summary excution by bullet. And how many of the dead and often innocent's organs have been sold for profit? Personally I would find this information far more interesting statistics than how many people have got a mobile phone.

  • 3.
  • At 05:30 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • John wrote:

I am afraid Daniel that you cannot apply western standards of human rights to China. They have to be allowed to get on with building their economy with some degree of latitude. When we in the West built our economies we were sending children up chimneys. Forcing the Chinese to adopt modern Western standards is hypocritical and a form of protectionism.

Having spent time doing business in China it is obvious that relaxed civil liberties are just not possible just yet. Wealth needs to be generated in order to afford such Western luxuries.

  • 4.
  • At 06:31 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Ken wrote:


I think it is wonderful that you are so well informed about China.

Perhaps you could supply the sources of your information so that we can all check.

  • 5.
  • At 06:45 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Mark Bauer wrote:

John - your comments are stupefying, both in terms of it being your response to Daniel and in terms of the idiocy of your viewpoint. China gets ALL the benefit of those who have gone before - technology, medicine, business plans - and yes, even the wisdom that has come from hindsight as the world considers the impact of the previous industrial revolution, so why can't we expect something better than having them commit all the same errors? Doing things the right or better way does not always mean needing more money - it isn't about wealth as much as it is about attitude. To suggest that China doesn't have enough money to do it right is beyond comprehension. China appears to *not care*.

  • 6.
  • At 07:54 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Max wrote:

I disagree John. I think that you can find other places in the world that have neither the luxury nor the abuses found in China. Spend time on more than business and you'll see that; otherwise you have a great conflict pushing you towards agreement.

  • 7.
  • At 08:08 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Amy Surplice wrote:

Which Chinese Embassy is "John" attached to?

  • 8.
  • At 02:28 AM on 26 Jan 2007,
  • S. Martin wrote:

John, Selling political prisoners organs, building nuclear weapons while claiming to be a developing country with poor citizens, intentionally embracing the cheapest and most polluting manufactuirng process available to keep costs down and, the list goes on and on. "Appeasement" towards this type of regime has historically led to disaster. Start calling it like it is.

  • 9.
  • At 04:42 AM on 26 Jan 2007,
  • Alexandra wrote:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. China is big in businesses and such. But has anyone look thru' their "internal" accounts yet and business ethics?

  • 10.
  • At 01:16 PM on 26 Jan 2007,
  • John wrote:

Ken, Mark Ame et al,

I am not sure that the Chinese would agree that they benefit from Western advances. What I see is the West making them pay through the nose for our sophisticated technology. Perhaps some of the West's enlightened drug companies and luxury brands are just about to introduce a new low pricing structure to help the Chinese liberalise. Somehow I don't think so.

Is it not Western greed that drives down Chinese wage rates? Go to any Tesco or Wallmart and watch the locusts snap up the low priced goods. Do they care about povety wage rates - don't look like it.

You may not agree with my viewpoint but you have to deal with it as that is how the Chinese see things. We are in no position to preach to them, didn't we sell them opium to solve our last trade deficit problem.

I am just not sure which liberal Western society you think the Chinese should look to for an example. We may have lots of woolly liberal Sunday papers to read but what are we doing to solve the worlds real social and economic problems. For example, is China's policy of building trade in Africa based on Oil any worse than the West's exploitative model?

Perhaps you want them to go off and start a few wars in the Middle East?

I would say pick the log out of your own eye.

  • 11.
  • At 01:29 PM on 26 Jan 2007,
  • Andrew wrote:

I hope China is linked not only with India but also with climate change. The potential impact of an industrialising China using crude production methods is huge and needs to be addressed. Those outside China need to be part of that solution, and that is what Davos should be considering.

  • 12.
  • At 11:29 PM on 26 Jan 2007,
  • Fraser wrote:

I have read a lot of the comments about china, live in vancouver and it is very mutlti cutural, One thing i am being to understand is that this is one planet and not just america or canada or europe.. what one are does or does not do affect the other.. Now i am proud to be a canadain we have our problems and muddle through them. We try to be non objective when it comes to view of other country, but when we differ on opions, we have the brains to accept what other country do.. We have no idea how to run a country of size in pop or diversity as china, when white man came to the americas we slaughter the indians and took there land and it has taken this long to understand we all live here.. Last commment we all have to learn to get along.. diversity make a dinamic statement, and in course people will at one point tell the govt what and how to work.. It is not always a easy road.. cheers

  • 13.
  • At 12:35 AM on 27 Jan 2007,
  • Stephen Nicholson wrote:

I was just wondering. With such a staggering GDP and the capability to restore wealth anywhere in China, why does China let North Koreans, its staunch ally's own people, starve to death?

  • 14.
  • At 01:30 PM on 27 Jan 2007,
  • charlie wrote:

dear stephen,
possibly because north korea is a seperate country and thus not china's responsibility, despite it being an ally -though not a "staunch" one. plus, showering aid on north korea goes one further from the lacklustre policy of sanctions and actually positively encourages and allows the north korean government to carry on the way it is- that is oppressing its people and building nuclear weapons and thus that would be responding to kim jong's scare tactics exactly the way he hopes the international community will. its seems unlikely that china redistributing some of its wealth across the border would actually massively help many north koreans.

  • 15.
  • At 02:33 PM on 27 Jan 2007,
  • S. Martin wrote:


The big difference here is I do not defend the unsavoury actions of westerm nations either. You seem to have two sets of standards namely one for China and one for the west. Are you a poitician?

  • 16.
  • At 05:24 PM on 27 Jan 2007,
  • Alan Selka wrote:

The Chinese have pull off an amazing trick. They have encouraged capitalism and entrepreneurialism on the street while retaining central political power. This is a new mix of authoritarianism and free enterprise.
America sees the morning horizon turning rose pink. All this Bushism is a vain attempt to stop the entire sky turning red.

  • 17.
  • At 06:53 PM on 27 Jan 2007,
  • Marc wrote:


It takes only a superficial familiarity with economics to see the flaws in your arguments. It is Chinese poverty in the countryside that keeps wages there low. As any factory manager knows, hiring a new migrant worker from the interior will cost between RMB500-RMB800 per month regardless of whether the product is for the export or the domestic market. I don't have any problem with this. Furthermore, if the Chinese think that modern technology or Western luxury brands are too expensive, they don't have to buy them. It is that simple.

As for moral issues, supporting a geoncidal regime in Sudan is wrong. excecuting political prisoners and selling their organs over the internet (google it where do you think the organs are coming from?) is wrong regardless of a country's level of development. The anti-western and anti-Japanese propaganda that the government continues to spout through its media monopoly is dangerous and not to be condoned.

To be fair, China's economic growth has been remarkable in improving many people's lives. Just talk to anyone there over the age of 40 and they will tell you. This does not, however, give them carte blance to do whatever they want in other spheres.

I find the views defending China's human rights record over economic growth to be quite staggering. Yes we did in great britain did send children up chimneys in down coal mines as part of growth. However we did not commit mass genocide or political repression through fear and abuse in the way that China has. Neither have we had policies which discriminate against having more than one child in the family. This has led to a huge rise in the number of girls being either aborted or left in orphanages.

As yet no one has discussed the impact which China (or India) has had on unemployment in the west. So many companies are now moving thier call centres and manufacturing bases to these countries and we as consumers are happy to purchase the goods provided as they are cheaper than those manufactured at home.

This globalisation and the effect it has on the economics of the countries effected is driving wages down in real terms.

  • 19.
  • At 10:22 AM on 28 Jan 2007,
  • John wrote:


Thank you for encapsulating so clearly the contradiction in the Western approach to human rights and environmental issue in China.

The economics is complex. You argue in the first part of your response for a laissez faire market forces approach. That happens to rather suit western society by keeping wage rates low and protecting high prices for western goods.

You don't argue for intervention to prevent exploitation by Western buyers or subsidised pricing of drugs, medical equipment etc.

On the other had you completely switch your view and argue for intervention on humanitarian and environmental issues.

No coincidence here that this also benefits Western society by imposing a brake on development.

It is clear that self interest drives Western policy, nothing else. Why not apply the same rule to China?

This is a big issue because the West now knows that we cannot control China as we have contolled the rest of the third and developing world.

Good luck to them I say. I just hope something will wake up the UK from its hopeless slumber. Maybe we can start working a bit harder and competing. Maybe we could even educate our children properly - or is that just going too far?

  • 20.
  • At 11:20 PM on 28 Jan 2007,
  • Jia Liu wrote:

I wonder, rather than staggering numbers, what Chinese entrepreneur said about their corporate social responsibility, about our deteriorated environment, about our coal fire power plants. Our fast economic growth is built upon the sacrifice of priceless environment. Although as a latecomer China has little to do with the warming planet, look into furture, can global warming ever slow down without the participation of China? The affordable alternative energy is the only way out , for China, for the rest of the world. To those westerners who are so much concerned about various controversies and issues in China, please also ask yourself some simple question. Do you know where your computer has been recycled? Count the your belongs , how many of them are made in China?

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