China constructed over 600,000 5G base stations in 2020: MIIT
Updated 23:52, 26-Jan-2021
By Gao Yun and Sun Ye

More than 600,000 5G base stations were built and put into operation in China in 2020, a spokesperson from the country's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) said at a press conference on Tuesday. 

Tian Yulong, also a chief engineer at the MIIT, said China witnessed an overall steady and sound development in the information and communications sector in 2020.

The number of 5G terminal connections exceeded 200 million, covering all cities at and above the prefectural level.

Total telecommunication services experienced year-on-year growth of 20.6 percent, and the revenue from software and information services rose 13.3 percent from 2019, said Tian.

5G technology has been applied in multiple scenarios, said Zhao Zhiguo, Information and Communication Administration director of the MIIT. 

More than 1,100 5G+ industrial internet projects were launched in 2020, and 5G-based remote consultation was utilized in more than 60 hospitals in 19 provinces.

New models and forms facilitated by 5G are emerging, such as 5G+ autonomous driving, 5G+ smart grid, and 5G+ online education, he added.

"5G technology is playing an increasingly important role in empowering industries, benefiting society and serving the people," stressed Zhao. "It is becoming a significant driving force behind high-quality economic development."

In 2021, China will promote the development of 5G in a three-pronged approach.

First, the country will enhance its network coverage capacity. It will build another 600,000 5G base stations in 2021 and accelerate the 5G coverage in counties and towns where conditions permit.

"We will build networks in key sections such as industry, energy, transportation, medical care and education, to achieve 5G network coverage in a wider range and at more levels," Zhao said.

The second is to improve innovation in 5G applications. New consumption models, such as 5G+ VR, AR are encouraged, and life services enabled by 5G technology in fields including health care and housekeeping are to be promoted. The country will also accelerate transforming the network of traditional industries and optimizing production processes with 5G technology to help enterprises reduce costs, improve quality and efficiency and achieve green development.

 China is also expected to advance the development and deployment of key technologies such as network slicing and edge computing, as well as key products and devices, including customized and economical 5G chips, modules and terminals.


China's industrial output up by 2.8 percent in 2020

China recorded a 2.8 percent growth in industrial output for 2020, according to the MIIT. 

Tian said the growth has been hard-won. The first quarter of 2020 had seen China's industrial output down by 8.4 percent, which then climbed up gradually in the following three quarters. 

"It's a year of almost unprecedented challenges … But we've managed to get back to the path of growth, regaining lost ground one season after another," Tian said. 

Medical supplies production has received a boost

Tian said the year, though difficult, saw a "fast and comprehensive" build-up for the country's medical system, from emergency supplies to vaccines to pandemic control.

According to the MIIT, 18 companies in China have been ramping up COVID-19 vaccine production, and the production capacity of domestically developed vaccines is expected to reach 1 billion in 2021.

Tian said China will continue to step up efforts in the medical device sector to promote the independence and controllability of domestic industrial and supply chains.

"Now we are working to bolster the production of high-end medical equipment. We are boosting the production of fast-response nucleic acid test supplies. We are also doing everything we can to ensure the mass-production of vaccines," he said. 

A staff member of Sinovac Biotech manages a vaccine array in the company's workshop. /Xinhua

A staff member of Sinovac Biotech manages a vaccine array in the company's workshop. /Xinhua

China to support SMEs

Tian cited COVID-19 as the biggest challenge for 2021. He also said small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) could be most susceptible to volatility.

The ministry plans to nurture 10,000 innovative SMEs into "small giants," or champions and sector leaders over the next three to five years to speed up the formation of an industrial ecosystem among large and small enterprises.

"More efforts would be made in supporting policies, services and bettering the business environment for SMEs," Tian said.  

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