China's ambitious national emissions trading scheme is a "game changer" in the long term but current power prices and high equipment costs will make it hard for the renewable energy sector to benefit from it in the foreseeable future, analysts said. The trading system, announced in a joint US-China climate statement during President Xi Jinping's state visit to the United States in September, stated that the new scheme would cover "key industry sectors such as iron and steel, power generation, chemicals, building materials, paper-making, and non-ferrous metals". Experimental programmes have been introduced to seven provinces since 2012. "Over time, the significance of that will increase but in the short term, the emissions trading scheme - the difference that will make will just be marginal," Alexander Lui, managing director of Asia Environmental Partners and Olympus Capital Asia, said yesterday at the South China Morning Post 's China Conference in Hong Kong. He added that the relatively low price of conventional power and its equipment were major factors limiting the development of renewable energy. Michael Tong, head of utilities, renewable and environmental research at Deutsche Bank, said although the renewable energy sector would benefit little in the short term, this would be the price the national economy needed to pay first as the country's industries were still heavily reliant on coal for power. "The very harsh requirements on the carbon side will put a huge burden on the economy," he said. The funds derived from carbon trading would unlikely be used to support renewable energy, Tong added. Despite these obstacles, renewable energy has good prospects in the long term as China becomes the largest country in renewable energy development, Tong said. Last year, China built 23 gigawatts of wind power capacity, accounting for roughly 40 per cent of all new wind power capacity worldwide. Meanwhile, in an earlier panel discussion on technology, data, and cloud computing at the conference, Alex Wang, vice-president of ZTE's CTO Group, said Chinese technology enterprises would be among the first in the world to launch 5G mobile telecommunications networks by 2020. The mainland telecoms giant plans to commercialise its "pre-5G" technology next year. "When 4G networks were introduced to the market, China still saw about a three- or four-year lag behind Western countries," Wang said. "But when it comes to the 5G era, the Chinese government has already announced it will run 5G by 2020 - as fast as developed countries like Japan, the United States and South Korea." Wang said mainland internet and mobile phone users would be able to enjoy speeds between 10 and 100 times faster within five years, as the government kept pushing innovation and technological development. Wang said the company would serve the mainland and Hong Kong markets first before taking the faster networks overseas.