Resale of mobile communications services back on the menu in China

Notwithstanding the high hopes surrounding China’s entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO) more than 10 years ago in 2001 with the commitment from China to open up both basic telecommunication services (BTSs) and value-added telecommunication services (VATSs), the actual opening up of China’s telecommunications industry has failed to match the expectations of foreign investors going into WTO.

The primary government authority regulating the telecommunications and internet industries in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), which so far has adopted quite a protectionist stance in opening up China’s telecommunications and internet markets to overseas operators.

More than 10 years on since WTO, whether you look at BTSs (such as fixed-line and mobile network communication services) or VATSs (such as broadband access services) they are still, across the board, almost exclusively provided by one or more of the three main telecommunications carriers in China, namely China Telecom, China Mobile and China Unicom often under services marketed under sub-brands that obscure the link to the parent. Although each one has a listed arm on both the Hong Kong Stock Exchange and the New York Stock Exchange, they are still ultimately controlled by the Chinese state and operated for the most part as state-owned enterprises…

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