China's IT industry will grow by 20 percent a year over the next five years, a high-ranking Chinese official has predicted, according to the Web site of the official English-language China Daily newspaper.
At that rate, the country's IT output will grow three times as fast as the gross domestic product overall, said Lu Xinkui [CQ], vice minister of the Ministry of Information Industry (MII), speaking at the World Computer Congress in Beijing last week, China Daily reported.
China is enjoying a large trade surplus in IT products, according to the MII.
Its figures show IT exports worth US$8.6 billion in the first six months of 2000 alone, for a surplus of $2.2 billion, the report said. China has had a trade surplus in IT since 1993, according to MII estimates.
Helping to drive the rapid growth of China's IT industry is a population of Internet users that is doubling every six months and now stands at 16.9 million, the report said. The China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) reported that figure last month, but other analysts have produced lower estimates. [See "UPDATE: China Now Has 16.9 Million Internet Users," August 3.]Most of China's Internet users, however, still are not participating in electronic commerce, according to MII figures. The ministry estimates only 16.3 percent of China's Internet users bought anything online in the first six months of this year.
Development of China's information infrastructure, including broadband networks and converged telecommunications, broadcast and data communications, will be an area of significant investment over the next several years, Lu said, according to China Daily.