C&W to benefit as China expands phone services

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CHINA plans to increase its number of telephones from 30 million in 1993 to 141 million by the end of the decade, writes Mary Fagan.

Xiong Bingqun, president of the China Academy of Telecommunications Technology, told a conference in Hong Kong that 8 per cent of the population could have telephones by the year 2000, compared with about 2.5 per cent now.

Revenues from post and telecommunications are expected to account for 6 per cent of gross national product within six years.

Analysts believe that Cable and Wireless will be one of the greatest beneficiaries of the Chinese telecommunications boom. The company, which owns 58 per cent of Hongkong Telecom, is a preferred supplier to China following a visit to Peking earlier this year by Lord Young, C&W's chairman.

Mr Xiong said the policy of barring foreign ownership of telecommunications projects remained unchanged. However, Cable & Wireless believes that the issue of foreign investment is under review.

A spokesman said: 'When the policy changes we will be keen to take up fixed or mobile opportunities on our own or with partners, but it would be premature to discuss specific projects at the moment.'