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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, January 12, 2002

China delegates join telecom conference

By John Duchemin
Advertiser Staff Writer

Thanks to a poor year for the communications industry, the Pacific Telecommunications Council's 24th annual conference is expecting lower attendance than last year when it starts tomorrow evening in Waikiki.

Highlights of PTC 2002
24th annual conference of the Pacific Telecommunications Council
Hilton Hawaiian Village, Waikiki
Tomorrow through Thursday
Conference theme: Making the latest high-speed wireless technology work
Participants: Delegations from top corporations
 •  Hawai'i involvement: Several local exhibitors including telecom companies USAsia Telecom, Pihana Pacific, Pacific Lightnet and NetEnterprise; Hawai'i business people invited to opening session; Gov. Ben Cayetano to lead opening ceremony tomorrow.
Still, organizers of the event, one of the most significant business conferences regularly held in Honolulu, say PTC 2002 will be a groundbreaking meeting for one important reason: It's the first in which China is an official participant.

Information Industry Minister Wu Jichuan, one of China's top government officials, will be the keynote speaker Monday at the conference's opening session.

Getting Wu to speak at the conference is "like getting a cross between the chairman of the FCC and the U.S. secretary of commerce all rolled into one — or even better, because China has five times the amount of people we have," said Hoyt Zia, executive director of the Honolulu-based PTC.

Wu's presence more than outweighs a 20 percent drop in attendance to about 1,500, Zia said. He said the drop was caused by the 2001 struggles of the telecom industry, which last year faced multibillion-dollar losses and bankruptcies among top companies thanks to weak demand, overcapacity and high debt.

Wu heads a delegation of about 75 Chinese telecom and government officials to the meeting, which each year brings top telecom players to Honolulu from Asia, North and South America and Pacific island nations. In future years, PTC hopes to bring 200 to 300 Chinese representatives, Zia said.

China joined the PTC last year after the organization agreed to refer to Taiwan, which China claims is a breakaway province, as "Chinese Taipei" or "Taiwan, China." As a result, the delegation from Taiwan will be much smaller than in past years, Zia said.

Some Hawai'i business people will get a chance to hear Wu speak. About 200 local business and government officials are invited to the opening session, where Wu will be joined by Haruo Murakami, chairman of Japan Telecom Co., and William Keever, chief executive in Asia for British telecom giant Vodafone Group Plc.

Pacific Telecommunications Council has held its annual conference in Hawai'i for decades, usually drawing hundreds of participants to discuss policy issues, learn about new products and make deals. The council is a nongovernmental telecom organization with about 730 members from around the Pacific Rim.