New mainland guidelines to order telecom disputes

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 21 January, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 21 January, 2003, 12:00am

Beijing will soon issue new regulations aimed at clarifying issues related to foreign investments in the telecommunications sector, part of commitments to the World Trade Organisation, in a move that could widen the scope of businesses open to investment.

It will also issue a code for handling commercial disputes between China's telecom operators, a key source of friction as competition in the sector heats up.

A revised version of the Telecom Services Classification Catalogue would be issued this year to address changes that have emerged in China's fast-growing telecom sector, said Su Jinsheng, director of the Telecommunication Administration Bureau of the Ministry of Information Industry. He was quoted in the ministry-owned China Electronics News.

Regulations were issued in June 2001 on the classification and requirements for telecom services. Mr Su said the new regulations would clarify issues related to foreign investment and to domestic market disputes.

The previous catalogue divided telecoms services into two categories - basic and valued.

Under WTO pacts, foreign firms will be allowed to take up to 50 per cent of joint ventures in value-added services, and 49 per cent in basic telecom services, five years from WTO accession.

The new catalogue could widen the scope of businesses available for foreign investment. Foreign companies and lawyers have complained that the ministry's present interpretation of the catalogue is far too restrictive, and blocks even the limited market access China had promised, according to Dow Jones Newswires.

Mr Su said his bureau would issue a regulation dubbed the 'Methods for Managing Market Order in the Telecom Services Market', a code for managing commercial disputes between China's telecom operators.

He said the new rules would aim to preserve order in the telecom services market, and he emphasised that interconnection work would be a focus of this year's telecom management. Interconnection, industry jargon for the process of passing calls or data from one telecom operator's network to another, has become a key trouble spot as competition has increased among operators.