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New heads for Big Three telecommunication carriers

Gao Yuan and Oswald Chan
Updated: Aug 25,2015 9:23 AM     China Daily

China’s Cabinet appointed new heads for the Big Three telecommunication carriers on Aug 24.

Shang Bing, former vice-minister of telecom watchdog the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, took over China Mobile Ltd, while Xi Guohua, its former head, is retiring, the company said.

The smaller China Telecom Corp Ltd and China Unicom Ltd, saw their chairmen-Wang Xiaochu and Chang Xiaobing-swap places, according to the companies.

Leaders of the Big Three telecom firms, in which the government owns majority stakes, are appointed by the State Council. It is the first time in 11 years that the heads of the three companies have changed at the same time.

The appointments come as revenue at the telecom giants has slumped. The companies attribute the declines to tax policy changes and loss of users in voice and short-messaging services.

The new chairmen have yet to announce if there will be strategy changes after the transition.

Some reforms are already underway. The companies have split their infrastructure construction subsidiaries to form a new company to serve all. The next focus is to provide higher-quality services.

Earlier this year, Premier Li Keqiang criticized China’s slow Internet speed and traffic charge. The carriers later announced plans to cut service fees by about a third.

But deeper-rooted issues have still to be addressed, including the further opening up of the telecom market to private capital.

Zeng Jianqiu, a professor at Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications, said the authorities have to push reforms when carriers are facing growing pressure from privately owned mobile Internet companies.