Linking ICTs to rural development: China's rural information policy

  • Xia J
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Abstract

The issue of rural communication development has been conventionally examined under labels such as universal service, digital, divide, broadband deployment, and E-Government, which generally fall into two seemingly distinct categories—access and applications. In China, these concepts are currently incorporated into a single program, if not a single term—“Village Informatization Program” (“VIP”). The VIP upgraded the objectives of previous telephone and television “Village Access Projects” (“VAPs”), an upgrade which is intended to provide “comprehensive information services” in rural areas. The execution of the VIP regime has been faced with challenges. The lack of explicitly defined objectives and institutional arrangement has led to regulatory confusion and has compromised the outcome of initiatives taken by central department and regional/local governments which are more often independent in actions. China is therefore faced with the imperative of formulating the VIP regime which is to assimilate to China's unique institutional context. This article first reviews the current status of the VIP regime before moving on to the discussion of establishing an integrative and sustainable VIP regulatory regime in China. Then, the current regulatory regime is characterized based on which reforms are suggested—in which is highlighted a layer-based localization regulatory solution, which delineates provincial/local roles from central roles based on a stratified incentive policies and governance arrangement. Possible applications in other countries are discussed in the conclusion.

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  • Jun Xia

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