RS 2: China

Digital Divide Between Urban and Rural Regions in China

In the Digital Divide Between Urban and Rural Regions in China by Michelle Fong, a correlation study was done to compare the income gap between rural and urban China to the adoption rate of ICTs (Information and Communication Technologies). Fong argues that this correlation study has validity through its comparison to other studies, such as a study on fisherman in Kerala, where “adoption of mobile phones can promote economic and social welfare not only for these fishermen but also for consumers” (1). With that in mind, another argument was subsequently made regarding the rural-urban income inequality that plagues China. Recent news had spelled hope, such as the fact that “[i]n 2003, the Chinese government pledged to invest 200 million yuan (US$24.2 million) to narrow the digital gap between the eastern and western regions” (2); however, to this day, there remains a significant digital divide between the rural and urban areas of China. Fong emphasizes the importance of closing this divide and has conducted a study to highlight how ICTs have widened this gap through technology inequality. In her study, Fong focuses on comparing the correlations between five different ICTs, internet, mobile phones, pagers, personal computers and telephones, to the difference in income between urban and rural areas. According to Table 1, the results shown that four of the five ICTs have shown to have significant correlation with income gap, with exception of pagers. Fong then utilizes statistical data to argue why these results ring true; the results demonstrated that ICTs directly increases the income gap through allowing urban areas more jobs to produce/develop technology as well as indirectly through the urban populace’s use ICTs to achieve a higher education level. As for pagers, there was an emphasis that “there was no significant relationship between the adoption of paging service and this income gap between 1985 and 2005 due to the maturity of this technology life cycle in the urban region, and its risk in disrupting with important aviation communications in the country” (9). This article was then closed through observing the challenges seen in bringing ICTs to the rural population, such as “the high cost of ICTs” (10).

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