Wu Jichuan sacked?; Internet possible topic of dicussion for Zhu's upcoming US visit; Gates gallops through Greater China; Intel wants growing China netters to pony up for Pentium III....
03/10 Matrix East -- On Monday, Peter Lovelock of Big Brains Ltd., Hong Kong, reported the commencement of major restructuring in the Ministry of Information Industry and the potential ousting of telecom minister Wu Jichuan. Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji appears to have won State Council approval for the sacking of Minister Wu, although the date of his departure has not yet been set. In the meantime, the Ministry will undergo two phases of restructuring -- a functional division during the first half of the year, followed by division of the carrier into six regional bodies in the second half of the year. Speculation is that the regional breakup is being modeled after the landmark break-up of AT&T in the US in 1984.
These developments came as US Trade Reps confirmed that talks over China's accession to the WTO were "back on track" ahead of Zhu's visit to Washington next month. It now appears possible that one offer Zhu is likely to table in the US next month is the opening of the Internet business to foreign investment. Since this is considered a value-added service, China would notionally retain its restrictions on basic services.
Market heavyweights Microsoft and Intel both made China Internet news this week.
Tom Robertson, Microsoft's Hong Kong-based corporate attorney announced last Sunday that Microsoft had won its first victory over software piracy in a mainland Chinese court. Microsoft was awarded 800,000 RMB in damages and defendants Beijing Seastar Science and Technology Development and Beijing Min'an Investment Consulting were ordered to print public apologies in newspapers and magazines. Microsoft chairman Bill Gates is slated to introduce a new TV-based Internet access technology in Shenzhen today (Wednesday.) Microsoft's Chinese partners for the "venus project" include Legend Holdings Ltd, Stone Electronic Technology Ltd, Founder (Hong Kong) Ltd and manufacturer Qingdao Haier Refrigerator Co Ltd.
Intel this week announced it had high hopes an explosion in Chinese Internet use over the next two years would help fuel sales of its new Pentium III microprocessor, though industry analysts were predictably skeptical.