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This section discusses computer-related issues with a Beijing focus and lists companies in the city that provide e-mail and other Internet services.

internet.gif (9957 bytes)Taxes
Can you buy a computer in China?

Phone lines/modems
How much does access cost?
Applying for an account
What if I don't have a computer?
How can you get e-mail and Internet access in China?

Some people fear they will have to pay duty on computers they bring into China. While this used to be an issue, it's now generally safe to say that you can now bring a computer into China without paying duty if the computer is clearly for your personal use. Notebooks are not a problem at all, since you can just carry them with you on the plane. For desktops you will have to pack, of course, but one is usually allowed duty-free. If you have computers that are clearly not simply for personal use, then you may have to pay import taxes, which could be as high as 20 percent of each units retail value.

Can you buy a computer in China?

Sure. Plenty of places will sell you a decent computer at a reasonable price. There's a whole street filled with hardware and software shops called Zhongguancun Lu not far south of Beijing University. But unless you are highly knowledgeable about computers and basically fluent in Mandarin, you'll need to find a qualified Chinese friend to help you. Fortunately, Chinese people seem to have some kind of innate aptitude for computers, so someone you know ought to be able to steer you toward a trustworthy expert.

Phone lines/modems

As is true in many developing countries, phone lines in Beijing can be problematic, so your ability to dial in to a server may depend on how your office (or hotel, home, university or work unit) is wired. If you're in a Western business office, you should be able to dial in pretty easily. If you're at a university or some other state-run entity where the telecom equipment is old, you may have problems since phone lines are frequently overburdened. Keep trying, however, and you can usually connect.

One of the main problems with Web-surfing in China is the relatively small bandwidth on the pipe linking the country to the outside world. Unless you have a high-speed modem (or sometimes even if you do) you may find yourself staring at that little hourglass on the computer screen for long, long periods of time. It depends to some extent on the time of day. A high proportion of China users surf at work, so the evenings tend to be easier than office hours.

How much does the Internet access cost?

China Telecom are providing broadband access service for Internet users without pay for start-up fees. Broadband access service has divided in to: 512 Mbps and I Gbps. The fees for 512 Mbps is around RMB.90-100/month (unlimited access), and for 1 Gbps is around RMB.120-130/month (unlimited access). For more information, please contact China Telecom (Zhongguo Dianxin) at 58501800.

Applying for an account

When you apply for your Internet access account, take your passport and a Xerox copy of your passport with you. Although you're technically required to register with the Public Security Bureau before you can open an account, many ISPs will do the legwork for you. Take enough cash to pay for an installation fee, if there is one (RMB 200-1,500) plus at least three months' prepayment (RMB 400-800).

What if I don't have a computer?

Like many other cities in China, Beijing now has a handful of Internet Cafes. Some, like the Keep-in-Touch and the Amazon Bar (see "Nightlife" section) have at least one terminal, allowing customers to browse while they're waiting for friends or nursing a beer or indeed, a coffee.

The three main Internet Cafes in Beijing are sometimes also known as Sparkice Cafes (a reference to the Canadian firm Sparkice which is the chain's foreign joint venture partner). These are pleasant, airy spaces that feel like coffee houses with PC terminals. Surf the Web for 30 RMB an hour, 15 if you're a student at a Chinese university (bring your ID to get the discount).

Cafes are located on Bai Shi Qiao Lu, just opposite the east gate of Purple Bamboo Park and west of Capital Stadium, tel. 6833-5335; on Wantong New World Market, No. 2 Fuchengmenwai Dajie in Xicheng, Tel. 6857-8794; on the ground floor just east of the China World Hotel, Tel. 6833-6333. They're open 10am-10pm. http://www.sparkice.co.cn, E-mail: mark@ sparkice.com.cn

And more:
Peking University Internet Cafe, Tel: 010-62527602
Add: Peking University east gate, chengfu road 47.
Weigongcun Internet Cafe,Tel: 010-68487894
Add: Weigongcun Minzun University North road west across 18.

How can you get e-mail and Internet access in China?

Beijing now has plenty of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) who will be happy to help hook you up.
There are a plethora of private and joint-venture ISPs, many of which have their own World Wide Web sites, some of them bilingual, others Chinese only:

Beijing Bike Electronics Technologies Co.Ltd.
Post Box 69, No.30,Baishiqiao Lu,Beijing 100081
Tel: 010-6217-6468,6217-4433 Ext. 2251, Fax: 6217-6468
E-mail: bikecom.@ public.bta.net.cn
Web site: http://power.beijing.cn.net

Eastnet China Ltd. (joint venture with the Ministry of Communications)
11 Jian Nei Avenue, East Building, Suite 516
Beijing 100736
Tel: 010-6529-2268, Fax. 6529-2265
Web site: http://home.eastnet.co.cn

International United Online Ltd.
Building #4, Second District
Anhuili, Asia Games Village
Chaoyang District, Beijing 100101
Tel: 010-6492-3076,6492-3077, Fax: 6492-2920
E-mail: Sales@ iuol.cn.net
Web site: http://www.iuol.cn.net

For an on-line list of China ISPs that service Beijing, check out this site:

Computer and network repair related:
VIP Beijing Computer Repair
Satellite-tv and dish network Related
Dish satellite TVconsultants Center

Some other Beijing ISPs, with webpages for easy contact (many are Chinese only):
Calmar (info.calmar.cn.net)
Chinanet (www.bta.net.cn)
China Golden Bridge (www.gh.co.cn)
CEInet (www.cei.go.cn)
CHINET (www.cpisn.cn.net)
NetCHINA (www.netchina.co.cn)
NewsGuide Internet (www.newsguide.co.cn)
Read Online (www.ohinchina.com)
Sparkice (www.sparkice.co.cn)
Midwest Corporation (www.midwest.co.cn)
Ying Hai Wei (www.ihw.com.cn)
Hong Ji (www.pannet.cn.net)
Hong Jiu Zhou (www.chinaroad.cn.net)
Shi Gi Hu Lian (www.intercom.com.cn)
Sai Bei Er (www.cyhernet.net.cn)