China

“E-content in China is now really all pervasive”

How would you define e-Content in China?

As demonstrated by the range of nominations, e-content in China is now really all pervasive be it e-health, e-government, e-entertainment or be it in terms of offered services offered — traditional websites, GRID networks and so on

 

“China remains the world’s most populated country and is home to diverse ethnic and cultural communities. It is at present one of the world’s most rapidly developing economies”


What’s the status of e-content in China?

The implications of e-content in China cannot be underestimated. China remains the world’s most populated country and is home to diverse ethnic and cultural communities. It is at present one of the world’s most rapidly developing economies. This economic transition creates massive opportunities not just for China, but the international community. Inevitably such a process also creates economic disparity. Accurate information and the ability to access it, the very essence of e-content, is critical both to cementing a strong national community, and helping all access and enjoy the benefits and opportunities of economic development. The China Internet Network Information Centre estimates that as of July 2005, there are over 103 million Internet users in China. This figure has more than tripled in the last five years and is poised for a dramatic rise in the near future. This underscores the importance of e-Content as a national information resource. In addition, as China becomes increasingly integrated in the world economy and forges strong political and cultural ties, e-Content plays a significant role in raising understanding and awareness of China among the international business and academic communities as well as the general public.

Which sector (business, private sector, government or civil society) in China is advanced in developing e-content?

Measured in terms of volume of web-sites, the business and civil society communities remain the dominant purveyors of e-Content in China. Just over 65% of registered websites come from these communities. Only 1.5% of registered websites in China have domain names that include .gov indicating government sites. However, it is difficult to get a true picture from these figures as many organizations, both government and public, tend to use the generic .cn domain name which gives no indication of the nature of the organization and account for some 17% of current websites.

In terms of aggressive development of innovative new applications of e-content – portals, services, applications etc. – this tends to originate from the state and academic community, though as reflected in the nominations mentioned above, there are noticeable instances where the business community has made significant contributions. There have also been a number of examples of joint venture initiatives between state and business or between business and academic

 

“There are still significant disparities in e-content development both geographically and in the kinds of services accessed and used”


communities, as for example in the Drug Discovery Bid mentioned above.

How would you describe the gradual progress of development of e-content in China?

As noted above, China has experienced rapid development in e-content and Internet usage over the last five years. However, there are still significant disparities in e-content development both geographically and in the kinds of services accessed and used. Urban areas and provinces along the predominantly developed coastal region are home to the majority of users and websites. Western China in particular is underrepresented. In addition, Internet usage is still dominated by the young with over 50% of users less than 25 years old and over 70% less than 30 years old. Perhaps because of this age pattern surveys examining Internet usage find almost equal number of users accessing the Internet for entertainment and games as well as for searching information. This inevitably affects demand for e-content. However, as indicated by one of our nominees, organizations are acknowledging this and using gaming environments to introduce the young to valuable historical and educational issues. In addition, as young users mature, they will increasingly demand, and indeed help build, more sophisticated e-content services to meet their needs for study and business.

What are the major bottlenecks in the path of e-content development in China?

Access to high-speed connection particularly in rural and underdeveloped areas of China remains a significant issue. Also, one has to encourage access to and usage of e-content in all age groups and sectors of society.

In most countries, especially developing, e-content development is significantly dependent on ICT infrastructure and ICT facilities. But, in some, ICT has become pervasive and e-content development is primarily subjected to the initiatives of an individual/organization/government, etc. What is the situation in China?

ICT infrastructure development is certainly a major issue in China. Approximately 50% of Internet access is over either leased line or broadband connections, with just over 35% dialup connections. Again, however, distribution of fast internet connections is heavily concentrated in urban and developed eastern provinces, with Western China being significantly underprovided.

Access to high speed connections also tends to be dominated by academic or state

“The Chinese government is already making impressive progress in establishing a nationwide truck network of high speed connections”


organizations, and relatively wealthy private businesses or individuals. As the majority of Internet users tend to be young, and, access e-content primarily from their homes rather than public or school computers, many are limited to relatively low speed connections.

The Chinese government is already making impressive progress in establishing a nationwide truck network of high speed connections, and getting provincial offices, cities and academic institutes connected to this. Improving access for private citizens from their own homes is a challenging task and requires both infrastructure development as well as a general improvement in economic development and household incomes. There is clearly a strong demand for reliable, high speed access to e-content throughout China, however, viable commercial services that can provide this will require household incomes to rise to such an extent that individuals will not be able to afford such access. It should however, be noted that infrastructure limitations, particularly of bandwidth does help e-content developers focus very hard on efficient design and delivery.

What’s the future of e-content in China?
As mentioned above, we see e-content becoming central to China’s development – not only internally, in building a strong, integrated national economy and society, but also internationally, in expanding awareness and understanding of China, its people, culture, policies, businesses and opportunities.

How do you recognise the best e-content practices in your country?
A nomination committee was set up by appointing five representatives elected by Beijing Municipal Science and Technology Commission, and five Hong Kong-based experts from Internet Professional Association of Hong Kong. This group included representatives from government, academia and the industry with a good understanding of e-content development throughout China. Referrals from the community were received by the nomination committee. These were reviewed before deciding on the nominations for the World Summit Award.

 

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