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China needs to capitalize on information revolution, World Bank

May '07
Information and communication technologies (ICT) are vital to managing China's unprecedented growth challenges, according to a new World Bank study titled China's Information Revolution: Managing the Economic and Social Transformation. Launched last week, this report is the first to comprehensively map out China's current ICT landscape while providing a forward-looking assessment of the state of the country's ICT preparedness.

China has the world's largest telecommunications market and its IT industry has been an engine of the country's economic growth—growing two to three times faster than GDP over the past 10 years. However, as China's development has entered a new stage, it requires an updated “informatization” strategy to reflect the current economic and social challenges as well as opportunities. If China is to reap the full benefits of ICT, the report says, it needs to deal decisively with several key issues.

“China is serious about putting in place a good foundation for equitable and sustainable economic growth” said Jim Adams, World Bank Vice President for the East Asia and Pacific region. “This report reinforces how important to that effort is a well thought-out ICT strategy that brings the benefits of the online world closer to everyone's daily lives.”

The report says that legal and regulatory reforms are urgently needed in areas such as telecommunications, open access to government information, data protection and privacy. A stark urban-rural divide in access to telecommunications infrastructure puts internet penetration 40 times higher in urban areas compared to rural.

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