As the famous Confucius quote goes: “Inequality, rather than want, is the cause of trouble.” Chinese people have always had complaints about high cell phone charges, but the knowledge that people in Hong Kong are offered a much more superior plan by China Mobile for the same price seems to be the tipping point when many mainland consumers decide that enough is enough.
A popular RMB 54 yuan ($9) plan offered by China Mobile in Hong Kong includes 1,700 minutes of talk, 10,000 text messages, and unlimited data. For a slightly higher price, China Mobile’s RMB 58 yuan plan in mainland only includes 350 minutes of talk, 10 MB of data, and no text messages.
To be fair, both plans are cheap, but the difference is striking, which is why many mainland consumers are pissed. “Looking at the two cell phone plans along, one’d assume that the living standard in mainland is 100 times higher than that of Hong Kong. In reality, it’s just the opposite,” many Chinese netizens commented.
Hong Kong, a special administrative region of China that’s governed under the policy of “one country, two systems”, already enjoys many privileges that mainland residents don’t have, such as much more political and media freedom. Now cheap cell phone plan is added to the “privilege” list.
Many netizens pointed out that such discrimination against mainland consumers proves exactly why “system” matters: “One cell phone plan is the product of a market economy, whereas the other is the product of a socialistic economy with Chinese characters.”
The market-driven economy in Hong Kong is what benefits its consumers. “If China Mobile offers the same plan in Hong Kong as in mainland, it will be edged out of the market by other players.” One Hong Kong netizen commented.
China Mobile, though with competitors like China Telecom and China Unicom, still dominates China’s mobile phone market by its 760+ million subscribers. It is actually also the world’s largest mobile phone operator. Its de facto monopoly status always bears the blame when consumers complain about its products or services.
One mainland netizen commented: “We are forced to buy these plans because there is no other choice. It’s either China Mobile or China Telecom. Mainland’s monopolistic telecom market is what turns us consumers into slaves.”
China Mobile justified its cheaper offering in Hong Kong by pointing out the plan’s many limitations, such as local-only calls and slow network speed. But mainland consumers apparently don’t buy it.
“I can tolerate all these limitations. I’d buy the plan as long as I have the choice.” One netizen commented.