China, once a vast underserved market, is now a key participant in shaping global policies and initiatives in information and communications technology, according to an official of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). 'China is now the centre of gravity of global telecommunications development,' said Tim Kelly, the head of the strategy and policy unit at ITU, a United Nations agency. Thus, it was 'a bit disappointing' that the mainland authorities had not bid to host ITU Telecom World in 2009, Mr Kelly said. The event, held every three years, will return to Geneva that year. It had hosted the event for three decades before the Hong Kong exposition in December. The mainland has experienced gains from infrastructure investment and increased use of new technologies, such as the shift from narrowband to broadband networks, Mr Kelly said. Those experiences are expected to be highlighted at the meeting at Asia-World Expo from December 4 to 8. The ITU, based in Geneva, Switzerland, is an international organisation within the UN system where governments and the private sector co-ordinate global telecommunications networks and services. This year's forum will attract about 600 chief executives and feature displays from as many companies from 40 countries, according to its website. 'The event is expected to be the world's largest information and communications technology trade show and exhibition to take place this year,' Mr Kelly said. It will mark the industry's 'healthy growth and rapid recovery' since the internet bubble burst in 2000. 'The theme of this year's event is 'Living the Digital World',' Mr Kelly said. 'In the last three years, the number of mobile phones in use ... has doubled to over two billion and the number of broadband users has grown to over 200 million.' Mr Kelly said the decision to return to Geneva took into account the need to see the event moved to another major information and communications technology market after Hong Kong.