IT around the world: China

Putting these to one side, many sceptics will be swayed by the sheer size of the opportunity available to them in China and by how quickly its markets are opening up as it slowly becomes Westernised and easier to deal with.

Indeed, the World Bank recently rated China 83 out of 181 economies on its 'ease of doing business' scale and says that this ranking will jump by a further seven places in the next.

Crucially, one final piece in the jigsaw may be the opportunity that exists around mobile. In February of this year, the number of mobile phone users reached 565 million, exceeding the fixed-line subscription base of 362 million, according to BuddeComm.

Yet, even though the research firm believes that figure will pass 600 million this year, it says market penetration rates will remain below 50 per cent, meaning the Chinese market still has a lot of untapped potential.

Clearly, the figures for China stack up and savvy investors and companies are already looking to exploit these and develop partnerships to unlock them. Soon the country will also be feeling the full benefits of 3G, while the socio-economic effect of the Olympics and the hosting of The World's Fair under bright lights of Shanghai in 2010 will give business a boost for years to come. Ignore China at your peril.

The details:

IT centres: Beijing, Shanghai

Top tech markets: hardware, IT services, outsourcing

Growth: over eight per cent for GDP reaching $3.42 trillion in 2007

Top local firms: China Mobile, China Telecom, China Unicom

Broadband: 200 million users, 50 million subscribers

Mobile phones: 565 million users, market penetration below 50 per cent