Since 1978, the development of posts and telecommunications has entered a new historical stage. The scale and volume of the telephone network, and the level of technology and services have all realized qualitative leaps. China has built up its public telecommunications network to cover the whole nation and link it up with the rest of the world.
The public postal network now boasts complete services and multiple transportation means. Many advanced methods are used, including optical cables, digital microwave networks, satellites, program-controlled exchanges, mobile telecommunications and data telecommunications. By the end of 1999, the nation's total mobile telephone exchange capacity had reached 160 million circuits, and the number of mobile telephone users had reached 43.24 million, making China the third-largest market for mobile phones in the world. The total number of telephone users in China reached 110 million in 1999, accounting for 13 percent of the nation's population, while the percentage in 1978 was 0.38 percent; and in urban areas, the percentage in 1999 was 28.4 percent, while in 1978 it was only 1.9 percent. In rural areas, 79.8 percent of the administrative villages now have telephones. China has 102,000 post offices nationwide, and the total length of postal routes and rural mail delivery routes reaches 6.215 million km. All large and medium-sized cities provide international express mail service, and have developed international automatic telex, data transmission, express fax, and TV program transmission services. Besides, various services via the Internet, including e-mail and e-commerce, are now available.