China has 230 million fixed-line and mobile telephone subscribers, a penetration rate of 20.1 percent, according to the head of the country’s Ministry of Information Industry (MII), Wu Jichuan.

Much of the recent growth has occurred in the mobile phone market, which grew 97 percent in 2000 to reach 85.3 million subscriptions by the end of the year, according to research released recently by Gartner Group Inc.

Wu, speaking at a symposium last Tuesday in the southern Chinese city of Shenzen, said that China has spent 800 billion renminbi (US$96.7 billion) in the past five years building its telecommunications infrastructure. The network now incorporates technologies such as fiber-optic cables, digital microwave links and satellite communications, he said according to a statement from the MII.

There are now 22.5 million Chinese Internet subscribers, Wu said. This figure is up 33 percent since August last year when the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) announced the country had 16.9 million subscribers, the last time official figures were released.