More wired Chinese tuning into amateur radio

Mon Jul 20, 2009 5:06am EDT
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By Jimmy Jian and Hanna Rantala

BEIJING (Reuters Life!) - When it comes to high-tech, China has it all. But in the country with the most Internet users in the world, some are choosing to stay in touch through an older device: the radio.

Armed with antennas, transmitters and receivers, a growing number of Chinese amateur radio operators, or radio hams, send out encoded messages and simple broadcasts in the hope of getting a response.

Of the world's three million amateur radio operators, up to 90,000 are in China, according to the Chinese Radio Sports Association which oversees licensing for hobbyists in the world's most populous country.

The number has been steadily growing in recent years, the association said, despite mobile phones and the Internet becoming commonplace in nearly all the country.

For members of the Beijing Sunny Radio Club, a perfect weekend means surfing the frequencies and talking to radio fanatics in other cities, or even other continents.

Wang Ranning, a 15-year-old student, has been an enthusiast for more than four years, and finds radio "charming."

"Your signals might reach the pyramid in Egypt, the Pentagon in America, go through California or any state and finally end up in a small family in the east of the United States," Wang said.

Further east, Liu Jinsheng, the first amateur radio operator in the coastal city of Qingdao, says he never takes the freedom, and sense of accomplishment, his hobby offers for granted.   Continued...