China’s Telecoms: Law, Policy, Regulations and Characteristics

Telecommunications policy in China is quite well defined. That this is so stands in contradiction to the widespread belief among foreign companies eager to penetrate the market who seem to believe that China is groping its way towards an opening to foreign direct investment but is held back by the lack of a clearly formulated policy, an absence of a telecommunications law and a failure to establish a regulator independent of the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications (MPT) which is also, through the Directorate-General of Telecommunications or China Telecom, the dominant player. In our view this is a wrong reading of the situation because it places too much presumption on the Western way of doing things, and pays insufficient attention to Chinese ‘characteristics’. This is not to say that we think it is impossible to apply generic models in thinking about China. On the contrary, we share the view of China scholars who would apply a bargaining model to China, who would argue that game theoretic can be usefully applied, but to adopt such an approach requires an understanding of the local characteristics which mediate the games to be played and the rules by which they are to be played.



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