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Start of China's Mobile Phone Era - China Mobile

Updated: June 18, 2021

By the end of 2020, there were nearly 1.6 billion smart phone users in China.

Dating back to 1984, it was in Sweden that Li Yisheng, then head of the Guangdong Provincial Posts and Telecommunications Administration, saw a wireless telephone for the first time.

He was astonished at the device with a keyboard and a screen and started thinking about using it in China's domestic emergency telecommunication system.

Then, in 1985, mobile phones became popular among businessmen in Hong Kong.

It was greatly inconvenient for them to do business in Guangdong as mobile phones were not available in the Chinese mainland at that time.

Therefore, Li, together with his team, submitted a plan for promoting use of mobile phones in Guangdong to the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications and applied for a loan of $10 million from the provincial government.

On Nov 18, 1987, a day before the opening of the Sixth National Games, Yang Taifang, then minister of posts and telecommunications, used China's first mobile phone to make a call. It was on that day that China stepped into the mobile telecommunication age.

Businessmen were the first beneficiaries of mobile phones in China.

Over the following years China's telecommunication industry grew rapidly. Now, the country has set mobile telecommunication standards and has proprietary intellectual property rights and more than half of the 4G users in the world.

Mobile phones have increased in functions and are now a necessity instead of a luxury.

(Executive editor: Wang Ruoting)