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So for phase 1, we plan just to have coverage in coastal areas, in large cities where there is a big demand for that. And we think for our customers it will be very easy: They keep the same number, even the same SIM card, and just change (the) handset when (they migrate) to 2G and 3G.
Can you tell me about when you were growing up? Something about your parents, what kind of values they instilled in you when you were a child that have stayed with you throughout your life?
Wang: I grew up in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province. And of course, I learned a lot from my parents.
When I was very young, my mother asked me a question: "Why are so many people so busy? Everybody is busy. What will be the purpose for all of them?" I said, "Their work is for manufacturing." And she said, "Manufacturing what?" I said, "Manufacturing steel." "And what is the purpose of steel?" I said, "For building big buildings, cars and trucks." And she said, "What is the purpose of buildings and cars?"
Later she told me, "Everybody has a purpose, the purpose of studying, the purpose of working. The only purpose is to make people's life better." I was very impressed by that.
So does that carry through to your work here at China Mobile?
Wang: That's true. We are very busy. Why are we so busy? To serve our customers, to serve our shareholders and our employees. (It's) very useful to me, this philosophy.
We hear about doing business in China and the "houmen," or "backdoor," connections. Is that a problem you have to deal with in China Mobile?
Wang: Some people (talk about what you've mentioned). For China Mobile, my thought is different from that. (For example), we have a very large amount of "cap-ex" (capital expenditures) every year. For this year, the cap-ex is about U.S. $9 billion. We have our rules based on international practice. We have bidding for any procurement. And when we do other things, I think we should make it very fair and based on international practice. We try to change things like "houmen," and I think we are very successful.
Another example is employee recruiting. This year, the headquarters of China Mobile wanted to recruit about 45 new employees, and we got applications from about 15,000. So we should have a process to find who will be the suitable person. I think all of the management members follow our rules.
You're listed in Hong Kong and on the New York Stock Exchange, but I've heard that you're also planning to list in China.
Wang: That's true. Based on the exchange regulation, only a domestic company could be listed in mainland China. So, we're thinking if a Hong Kong-registered company can be listed in the mainland, (we can) use the type similar to ADR (American depository receipts) (and) call it "CDR" (China depository receipts). That's our suggestion and some experts' suggestion.
We're waiting for permission from the government because this is a very new type?of methodology. We hope our customers can also become our shareholders. And today, it is not possible. As for the capital market: If we are listed in the domestic market, it will change the structure of the total capital market. So we think it is also meaningful to the market itself.
The last time we met, you said that anybody in your company is free to write you an e-mail, and you will look at all of those.
Wang: I promised: If you write to me, I promise to read your e-mail. A reply means I have received your letter. And (I will do this for) anybody, if you are an employee of China Mobile. And sometimes I will write them and discuss something about what they said in their e-mail.
(Before I made my promise), I thought maybe the letters would have some (requests)--some people would like to change their job, some people would criticize something, or (would want) something for themselves, salary, (benefits), or other things. But as a matter of fact, 90 percent of them are proposals, suggestions to the company. So I was very satisfied with that.
What are the opportunities for foreign companies in China?
Wang: I think in the agreement for entry to WTO, one of the (sections) is for telecommunication. And based on the agreement, foreign operators could enter the Chinese telecommunications market. But there was a transition period with some limitations. I think (now's) the time people from foreign countries can participate (fully) in the Chinese telecommunications (market).
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