China could soon lead the world in producing Internet Appliances (IAs), according to senior National Semiconductor executive Roland Andersson. 'We believe that China will be the trendsetter in the 21st century,' said Mr Andersson, who is senior vice-president of worldwide sales at the chipmaker. He quoted statistics predicting that in 2003 the PC's popularity as an Internet link would be overtaken by devices such as mobile phones and set-top boxes, which turn televisions into Web surfing tools. By 2005, there would be more than 300 million PCs in use - compared with more than 800 million for all other devices. The take-up of mobile phones in China was growing extremely quickly, with about three million new mobile-phone subscribers signing on every month, Mr Andersson said. The nation already produces more than 10 per cent of the world's electronics. China's big domestic market, its strength in manufacturing, and its low-cost labour pool could make it the top country for the creation of IAs, Mr Andersson said. National Semiconductor, which has championed the IA for several years, runs a joint laboratory with computer-maker Legend to develop the low-cost devices. National Semiconductor's Web personal access devices (Webpads) run on its own x86 Geode processors. IAs can range from refrigerators which connect to online grocery stores to order food, to palm-sized units which can surf the Internet and are as easy to use as telephones. China also could sell such devices abroad. 'A strong home market combined with expert [manufacturing] will support export growth out of China as well,' Mr Andersson said. Comdex China 2001 ran from Wednesday to Saturday in Beijing. The theme of this year's show was 'e-Solutions for the New Economic Age'. It was the fifth annual Comdex China, an offshoot of the annual Comdex gathering in Las Vegas. The Beijing venture was organised by China's Ministry of Information Industry, the Ministry of Science and Technology, and the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, together with overseas organisers Key3Media and International Data Group (IDG). Mr Andersson said China's domestic market was so large that if manufacturers could understand what consumers wanted, they would have a volume 'that other countries would kill for'. The nation had lured electronics manufacturing away from other hot spots such as Taiwan, Mr Andersson said. 'China has proven it can manufacture at lower cost than anyone else. 'With that, they can conquer the world, because IAs need to be affordable.' Also, if Chinese manufacturers wanted to win other markets, they needed to develop brand names which could be exported, he said.