The number of Chinese cellphone users dropped by 21 million in the past three months, Beijing authorities announced on March 19. There has not been an official reason to explain this, but many are connecting this finding to the coronavirus outbreak in China.
Cellphones are an indispensable part of life in China.
“The digitization level is very high in China. People can’t survive without a cellphone,” Tang Jingyuan, a U.S.-based China affairs commentator, told The Epoch Times on March 21. “Dealing with the government for pensions and social security, buying train tickets, shopping … no matter what people want to do, they are required to use cellphones.
It is thus very unlikely that more than 20 million people decided to ditch their phones during the coronavirus outbreak, a time you would expect higher data usage as folks try to stay online and up-to-date on the situation unfolding.
It is also known that some people may have more than two phones, so would make sense that some of these phones were ditched as the user ‘focused’ on one phone during the crisis but the numbers are just too high for such an argument.
UK has already reported up to a 50% spike in internet data usage due to the lockdown in the region. So how comes China lost so many users?
China Mobile Ltd., the world’s largest carrier, reporting its first net decline since starting to report monthly data in 2000, lost more than 8 million over January and February, data on the company’s website show. China Unicom Hong Kong Ltd. subscribers fell by 7.8 million in the period, while China Telecom Corp. has said it lost 5.6 million users last month.
The rare industrywide slump in subscribers shows the pandemic crisis that first emerged in China late last year is crimping growth even at businesses that provide essential services and earn monthly revenue.
But it is also raising suspicions on the validity of data given by Chinese authorities regarding the numbers of the infected and those killed by the virus.
At the peak of the outbreak in China, while authorities reported few daily increases in infections and deaths, funeral homes in Wuhan City were overwhelmed. A report was given showing concentrated levels of sulphur over funeral homes in China which pointed to a high increase in the number of bodies being cremated.
China deported foreign journalists, had direct control over the information given to the media and several people were arrested in China who attempted to report news that was not sanctioned by the Chinese Communist government.
There is a high likely hood that China did not give accurate data to the world and now many are concluding that the new drop in mobile users might explain why.