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Herman J. Woltring
01-12-1992, 10:47 AM
Dear Biomch-L readers,

Considering the various Chinese participants during the Perth ISB meeting
last month, and prior effort to attract subscribers from the PRC, the
following posting received a few minutes ago might be worth while reading.

Let's hope that the PRC's bid for the Olympics will help opening further
contacts with a hitherto highly closed culture hosting many fine biomechani-
cians.

Herman J. Woltring, Eindhoven/NL

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Date: Sun, 12 Jan 1992 18:11:41 -0500
From: GEAND@EDUC.UMASS.EDU "G. Ernest Anderson"
Subject: China E-Mail Network
Sender: "CHINANET: Networking In China"

China network observations from October, 1991, visit 1/12/92

The Institute of Computer Applications (ICA) at 10 Che Dao Gou,
Haidian District, Beijing, was created to provide data processing
and computer services to small and medium organizations that could
not afford their own computer installations. The ICA office is
extremely difficult to find; it is "hidden" at the rear of a complex
whose main mission appears to be quasi-military, and whose neighbors
"don't know anything about it." ICA is under the Ministry of
Machinery and Electronics Industry.

Contact was established by E-Mail to SYSTEM@ICA.Beijing.Canet.CN
Qian Tian Bai, Vice-Chief Engineer, P.O.Box 2418-26, Beijing, China
100081, phone 841-3654, is the contact person.

Chinanet is very small, and VERY EXPENSIVE. Costs are 8000 Yuan
to join, 2000 Yuan per month maintenance, and 10 Yuan per KILObyte
of information sent OR RECEIVED. For comparison, the average
Professor's salary in PRC is 150 Yuan per month. This explains
why some Internet information Qian Tian Bai wanted is being sent
by regular mail rather than E-Mail. Those of us who view Internet
as a big, free resource need to realize that casual communications
elsewhere, and especially to China, may NOT be welcome by the
recipient because of the cost.

FAX is much more prevalent than E-mail throughout Asia, partly because
the character set in Japan, China, Hong Kong, Korea, Taiwan, Singapore,
etc. is not amenable to western style keyboarding, nor is the use of
English (Roman characters) that widespread. As a side note, a major
data base research problem in Beijing is how to produce a telephone
directory! To get a home telephone number, even if I knew the full
name and address and could pronounce it correctly in Chinese, I had
to go through the place where the person worked; most work places
have an agreed upon Pinyin or English name that CAN be sorted on,
listed, and retrieved electronically.

Chinanet nodes exist in Beijing, Harbin, Shanghai, and Hangzhou, with
dial-up connections other places. Most users are businesses or
Chinese Academy of Sciences; practically none are Universities.
University computing centers (Computer Science Departments) seem to
be in some sort of communication with each other using something
called CNPAC, which is entirely graphic due to the nature of the
natural character set of China. This might explain why gateway(s)
to Chinanet or Internet don't seem to exist.

Chinanet's connections to the outside world are via a 2400 bps link
(sattelite) to University of Karlsruhe, using PMDF protocol. Call-ins
are done twice a day for exchange of international mail. ICA hardware
includes VAX 8700, Siemens 7760, and MVAXII cluster.

The University of International Business and Economics in Beijing has
a massive computer-based communication facility, installed for the
Asian Games last year, and maintained (but not used) in support of
Beijing's bid for the Olympics. Connections go throughout China, Asia,
and much of the rest of the world. My guess is that this machine could
host an extensive and inexpensive E-mail network with practically no
additional capital investment! I said this to everyone who would
listen in other agencies I visited; perhaps that may have some effect.
Unfortunately, I visited ICA before I visited UIBE and could not get
ICA's reaction to the idea.

Without knowing it when travel plans were made, a major conference
on telecommunications was to be held in Beijing about Nov. 1. ICA
suggested they could get me in if I were in Beijing at the time, but
I had already accepted a "Soviet" Academy of Science invitation for
November. I have not been able to find out what transpired at that
conference, although I have been promised a copy of the proceedings.
Perhaps someone who was there could enlighten me (and any others on
the network) about serious interest in moving China forward with
global networking.

As an interesting aside, one of the major U.S. planners of the Nov.
conference also created a large share of international use of Chinanet
in the previous month, and was pointed out to me as someone insensitive
to what their costs were. My personal reaction was that action was
needed to drive down costs (or get them subsidized) because what I saw
represented to me exactly the kinds of interchanges the networks were
designed to facilitate.

Addititions, corrections, interpretations, and comments welcome.

G. Ernest Anderson GEAND@EDUC.UMass.EDU
University of Massachusetts