Open Access
Liu, Chun
Graduate Program:
Mass Communications
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
September 06, 2006
Committee Members:
  • Richard Denny Taylor, Committee Chair
  • Jorge R Schement, Committee Member
  • Krishna Prasad Jayakar, Committee Member
  • Jun Shu, Committee Member
  • China
  • model
  • telecommunications
  • regulation
There is little doubt that China’s telecommunication service is now fairly affordable, very fashionable, and highly dynamic. In terms of market structure, although it is not perfect, the Chinese government has preliminarily created a competitive market structure. In each sector, theoretically, there are at least two carriers competing with each other. With regard to the regulatory regime, despite its complicated, if not mystic, policy-making process, telecommunication regulation is probably the most open policy issue in China. A regulatory agency has been set up after several government restructurings. Relevant laws and regulations are in place and are kept updated. Overall, China’s success has made it the envy of many developing countries. China’s telecommunications are unique. China’s achievement in telecommunications should be partly attributed to the old socialist economic system. The Chinese government designed the roadmap of the great reform and carefully implemented the plan of restructuring the industry and the regulatory regime, hoping to bring healthy competition into the market. Although it is open to debate whether this kind of managed reform is efficient or not, there is no doubt that, without the Chinese government’s strong and continuous support, China’s telecommunications could not possibly have achieved today’s success. At issue is whether China’s telecommunications development is sustainable in the future. The primary purpose of this study is to find out what regulatory approach the Chinese government should take to further advance China’s telecommunications service industry in the coming decade. More importantly, the regulatory model proposed in this study aims to retain the sustainability of China’s telecommunications industry. However, without understanding its history, any inquiry into the future is superficial. A great deal of this study is to understand what “Chinese characteristics” are and how they have shaped China’s telecommunications. The primary finding of this research is the identification of the objectives of China’s telecommunications policy: namely expanding telecommunications to serve the public interest and strengthening domestic carriers in the face of global competition. The consistent support from the government has helped China’s telecommunications industry successfully leapfrog to a relatively modern stage and potentially take the lead in some areas in the future. However, the ability of the current model of regulation to secure long term sustainability is questionable. This thesis also finds that that the combination of the “silo” type of regulation, the conflict of national and local interests and the dominance of state ownership are the key “Chinese characteristics”. However, it should be noted that “Chinese characteristic” is an evolving concept. Any policy measures that are in accord with the objectives of the Chinese government can be branded as “Chinese characteristics”. A model is proposed aiming to resolve issues identified in line with the Chinese government’s long term policy objectives.