China's information technology industry is the world's fastest-growing market and one foreign vendors cannot afford to miss, according to IT research institute Gartner. 'Napoleon said: 'If China wakes, the sleeping lion will shake the world'. Now . . . China is awakening,' Gartner senior analyst Dorothy Lai said yesterday. According to Gartner, revenue from the mainland IT sector will reach US$137 billion by 2005, compared with US$72.7 billion in 2000. Gartner expects China's IT industries to maintain an average annual growth rate of 13.5 per cent until 2005, outpacing the rest of the world. Besides strong domestic economic growth, the key promises Beijing had made before its World Trade Organisation accession would also contribute to strong expansion in the IT sector, Ms Lai said. Fair trade practices, the elimination of tariffs on IT products and the removal of import and export quotas would allow foreign IT vendors to enjoy cheaper costs and greater freedom in doing business. Of all IT products, telecommunications equipment would receive the strongest boost as the Government stepped up the development of the telecoms sector. The mobile-phone industry stands to benefit the most from the accelerated pace. Gartner said mobile-phone subscribers in the mainland would surge to 343.7 million by 2005. The country is already the world's largest mobile-phone market with 145 million users, according to Information Industry Minister Wu Jichuan. 'Since more people will be using mobile phones, we will gradually see more foreign handset manufacturers transfer their production to China,' Ms Lai said. Gartner expects revenue from sales of telecoms equipment to reach US$46 billion by 2005, up from US$20 billion in 2000. The sector would be the fastest IT growth industry, with an average annual growth rate of 18.5 per cent in the years to 2005. The market for data processing equipment, such as personal computers and personal handheld devices, would grow by 14.9 per cent a year for the next four years. Gartner estimates sales of personal computers will increase by 19 per cent a year until 2005, with 16 million units sold by then. 'Since the Taiwanese Government lifted the US$50 million ceiling for investing in China, more Taiwanese companies will move their notebook and motherboard production to China,' Gartner said. Ms Lai said that by the end of this year, about 40 per cent of Taiwan's notebook computers would be produced in China, compared with only 9 per cent last year. Data processing equipment would generate about US$39.6 billion a year by 2005, against US$19.7 billion in 2000, Gartner said. It sees consumer electronics as the second-largest revenue earner in the IT sector, estimated to generate US$43 billion in 2005. However, Ms Lai said because the consumer electronics industry was already overcrowded with domestic manufacturers and facing low profitability due to severe competition, growth in the sector would slow to 8.9 per cent. She advised foreign vendors not to compete in this industry but to invest instead in more high-end IT products.