|Statement by Mr. Ge Songxue, Counselor of the Chinese Mission to the United Nations, on Item 49 "Information and Communication Technologies for Development" at the 58th Session of the General Assembly|
|(8 December 2003)|
The Chinese Delegation has studied attentively the report of the Secretary-General on information and communication technologies for development. We wish to express our appreciation for the initiative of the Secretary-General to use information and communication technologies as a strategic tool to enhance the efficiency, effectiveness and impact of the programmes and technical cooperation activities of the United Nations system. Elements included in the Information and Communication Technology Strategy such as e-management, knowledge sharing, better services, infrastructure, security, capacity-building and governance are all very important. We hope that this strategy can be successfully implemented.
Statements made by all speakers on this item reflect a consensus that information and communication technologies are of great importance for development. It is encouraging to note that countries have made progress in varying degrees in using information and communication technologies for development. China is a large developing country and we have first-hand knowledge of the significance of information and communication technologies for development.
Over two decades ago, the Chinese Government decided to take economic development as its priority state policy, using the construction of the communication system as a starting point. The Chinese government clearly realized that a steady economic growth can only be assured by making full use of the opportunities available in the age of information, accelerating the development of information, communication and network technologies, and energetically use these technologies in economic, social, science and technology, national defense, educational, cultural and legal fields.
After years of hardwork, China has established a high-capacity and high-speed basic transmission network covering the whole country composed mainly of optical fiber cable supplemented by satellite and digital microwave communication. Eight vertical lines running from north to south and eight horizontal lines running from east to west form a national optical fiber cable grid connecting all provincial capitals and over 90% of towns and counties. By the end of 2002, China already had 20.83 million computers with internet connection and the total number of netizens reached 59.1 million, ranking second in the world. However, compared with its total population, the internet users only account for 4.6%, which shows that the impressive number of users does not mean an extensive use of the internet by the general population and that there is huge space for further development.
Marked progress has been made in developing and using communication technology in China. Communication network has been expanded from small to large capacity, from analog to digital technology, from single service to diversified services, thus meeting the basic needs of social and economic development in the information age. With China's entry into the WTO, the telecommunication sector has been opened to the outside world. The development of information and communication technologies in China has made an outstanding contribution to enhancing the national economic aggregate, reinforcing national defense and raising the people's living standard.
Information and communication technologies and the information industry have touched all economic and social sectors in China. They are playing an important role in rendering better information services to the society and improving the quality of life. Information and communication technologies have also provided an advanced operational means and the requisite network technology for China's macro economic control and its economic performance and security. They are major contributors to the transformation of traditional technologies in enterprises, improving labor productivity and accelerating industrialization through informatization, leading to good economic returns and social benefits. In turn, the information industry itself has benefited from the growth of business. In 2002, the added value of the information industry reached 5.7% of China's GDP.
To use information and communication technologies to promote development and eliminate the digital divide requires concerted efforts of the international community. The world summits on the information society to be held in Geneva in December this year and in Tunisia in 2005 are good opportunities for us to discuss how to better help, through financial aid, technology transfer and capacity-building, developing countries to use information and communication technologies for development so as to realize the millennium development goals. For this purpose, China is ready to work actively with the rest of the international community.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.