Although telephone communications were introduced to the mainland more than 115 years ago, Japan's invasion, civil war and Maoist priorities prevented popularisation of the technology until recently. The mainland's first telephone service began in Shanghai's concession districts in 1881, when a local battery-powered telephone was used. Two years later, Britain's China East Ocean Telephone Company united and enlarged the concession telephone systems. By 1898, 300 businesses and residences were connected. The city boasted nearly 50,000 telephones in service 35 years later. The tumultuous years of civil and global conflict that followed prevented immediate growth of the mainland's telephone capability. It was the Stalinist growth model adopted by Mao Zedong and the Chinese Communist Party once it came to power in 1949 that drove the mainland's telecommunications network into a chronic state of underdevelopment, however. Placing all aspects of personal, commercial and social activity under state supervision, the communist regime looked on the widespread development of telecommunications with suspicion, and reduced it. In Beijing, for example, telephone capacity that had stood at 26,300 lines in 1949 grew to just 80,716 lines by 1978. Under such circumstances, it made sense that Beijing in the 1970s adopted a crossbar telephone exchange system, which at the time represented a step backward from automatic exchanges then in use. The mainland also completely disregarded the advanced programme-controlled exchange systems already in use in the West. Change arrived only in 1979, following the rise of Deng Xiaoping and implementation of the mainland's modernising, open-door policy. Since then, telecommunications on the mainland has developed at a breakneck pace. In 1980, the mainland had just 4.18 million telephones and 1.34 million urban telephone subscribers. By 1997, the fixed-line subscriber figure had reached 83.4 million nationwide. Mobile communications - a more recent phenomenon that has allowed ordinary citizens instantaneous access to personal telephone service - have been growing at an even more astounding rate. Mobile telephones reached 13.6 million subscribers by the end of last year, growth of about 95 per cent over the previous year.