China United Network Communications Group Co., Ltd. (Chinese: 中国联合网络通信集团有限公司) or China Unicom (Chinese: 中国联通) is a Chinese state-owned telecommunications operator of China. China Unicom is the world's fourth-largest mobile service provider by subscriber base.[5] On 7 January 2009, China Unicom was awarded WCDMA license to expand its business to 3G telecommunication.[6]

The group had a special group structure to list its share. The group had a subsidiary China United Network Communications Limited (Chinese: 中国联合网络通信股份有限公司) which its A shares were traded in the Shanghai Stock Exchange (SSE: 600050), while an indirect subsidiary of the A share listed company, China Unicom (Hong Kong) Limited (Chinese: 中国联合网络通信(香港)股份有限公司) listed its shares in Hong Kong Stock Exchange as a red chip company (SEHK762) and in the New York Stock Exchange as American depository share (NYSECHU). The operating subsidiaries of the group were under China Unicom (Hong Kong). However, the group have some subsidiaries that involve in equity investment, such as "China Unicom Group Corporation (BVI) Limited", which were not injected to either listed companies.


China Unicom (known as Chinese: 中国联合通信有限公司 at that time) was founded as a state-owned enterprise on 18 June 1994[1] by the Ministry of Railways, the Ministry of Electronics Industry (zh) and the Ministry of Electric Power Industry (zh);[7] the establishment was approved by the State Council in December 1993.[7]

Started as a wireless paging and GSM mobile operator, it currently provides a wide range of services including nationwide GSM mobile network, long-distance, local calling, data communication, Internet services, and IP telephony in mainland China,[citation needed] and has operated a CDMA network in Macau since October 18, 2006.[8] As of the end of April 2008, the company had 125 million GSM subscribers and 43 million CDMA subscribers.[9] As of November 2008 the CDMA operations have been moved to China Telecommunications Corporation (China Telecom Group).[10] UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunications System) has just launched in major cities across China on May 17, 2009.[citation needed]


In February 2000 a subsidiary "China Unicom (Hong Kong) Limited" was incorporated in Hong Kong and was listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange on June 22, 2000.They are an MVNO running on Three's 2G network. They are the only provider to sell SIM cards that provide native phone numbers on both sides of the border (charging slightly higher rates than local while in the mainland, but cheaper than roaming with another provider—in some cases even cheaper than a SIM from another Chinese province if being used in the ShenzhenGuangzhou area).[citation needed]

The intermediate parent company "China Unicom (Hong Kong) Limited" was "China Unicom (BVI) Limited", As of 31 December 2001, the BVI company owned 77.47% shares of China Unicom (H.K.). In turn, China Unicom (H.K.) owned the operating subsidiaries of the group. In 2002, another intermediate parent company "China United Network Communications Limited" was established in Shanghai (headquartered in Beijing), to own 51% stake of "China Unicom (BVI) Limited" as well as listing the shares in the Shanghai Stock Exchange.[11] As of 31 December 2002, state-owned China Unicom Group owned 74.6% shares of the A share company,[12]:8 in turn the A share company owned 73.84% of the BVI company.[12]:23 The BVI company owned 77.47% shares of the red chip company.[13] To sum up, the Chinese Government via A share company, owned 42.67% stake of the operating subsidiaries, as well as additional 20.27% stake by the minority stake in the BVI company.

Merger with China Netcom

On June 2, 2008, China Unicom announced its intention to sell its CDMA business and assets to China Telecommunications Corporation (China Telecom Group) for a combined total of 110 billion RMB[10] and to merge the remainder of the company,[14][non-primary source needed] in a share swap valued at USD $56.3 billion (based on Unicom's stock last traded price) on June 2, 2008, with China Netcom.[15] The CDMA business was officially moved to China Telecom in early November. It also continues the former China Netcom's and the former China Telecom's PHS mobile phone businesses.[citation needed]

In July 2009, China Unicom signed a $700 million deal with infrastructure vendor Ericsson to upgrade the company's GSM network.[citation needed]

In April 2012, China Unicom was a founding member in the formation of Cloud Computing Industry Alliance in Beijing. Other members of the alliance include Baidu, Tencent, and Alibaba.[16][17]

Mixed-ownership reform of state-owned enterprise

In 2017 China Unicom became one of the pilot project of the mixed-ownership reform of the state-owned enterprise of China, which saw the decrease in ownership of the Government.[18]

In 2017 the A share listed company of the group introduced 10 strategic investors: state-controlled China Structural Reform Fund (zh), state-controlled listed company China Life Insurance, a private equity fund (Chinese: 腾讯信达有限合伙企业; literally: "Tencent–Cinda Limited Partnership") that was owned by China Cinda Asset Management and a company related to Tencent,[nb 4] a private equity fund partially owned by Baidu[nb 5] and Industrial Bank (Chinese: 百度鹏寰投资合伙企业), a private equity fund that related to JD.com (Chinese: 京东三弘企业管理中心; literally: "Jingdong Sanhong"),[nb 6] a public company Ali Venture Capital (Chinese: 阿里创业投资),[nb 7] a public company Suning Commerce Group and three minor private equity funds that was subscribed by companies such as Kuang-Chi and CRRC Group.[24][25]

In the same year, the fund raised by the A share company was injected to the Hong Kong incorporated red chip company, via "China Unicom (BVI) Limited", for HK$13.24 per share (for a maximum of 6.64 billion share / HK$88 billion).[26]

Establishment of China Unicom Global Limited

China Unicom Global Limited is a wholly owned subsidiary of China United Network Communication Group Company Limited. It was established on 24 June 2015, with its headquarter in Hong Kong. China Unicom Global is aimed to deliver direct and dedicate local support to customers outside Mainland China, including Asia Pacific, Americas, Europe, South Africa and the Middle East.[citation needed]

On 2 December 2016, China Unicom Global Limited launched the “CUniq” overseas mobile virtual network operator (“MVNO”) service in London, UK and unveiled the one-card-multiple-number service.

The "CUniq" one-card-multiple-number service provides a SIM card which works in Mainland China, Hong Kong (China) and the UK. The service may be extended to other areas.[27]

Partnership with Telefonica

In 2009, China Unicom (Hong Kong) agreed a US$1 billion cross-holding with Spain's Telefónica.[28] In January 2011, the two partners agreed a further US$500 million tie-up in each other, which following completion in late 2011, Telefonica will hold a 9.7% shares in China Unicom (H.K.), while the red chip company will own 1.4% shares of the Spanish firm.[29] The companies also agreed to deepen their cooperation in areas such as procurement, mobile service platforms, service to MNC's wholesale carriers, roaming, technology, among others, where both companies have been cooperating since the signature of their strategic alliance agreement.[30][31]

In June 2012, China United Network Communications Group (China Unicom Group), the ultimate parent company of Hong Kong listed company "China Unicom (Hong Kong)", had agreed to buy back about 1.1 billion shares (approx. 4.6% of the share capital) of the red chip company from Telefonica for an approx. HK$11 billion. (HK$10.21 per share; by narrow band floating exchange rate approx. US$1.4 billion), via an unlisted subsidiary "China Unicom Group Corporation (BVI) Limited". Immediate after the deal, Telefonica still owned 5% of China Unicom (H.K.).[32][33] In 2014 Telefónica sold a further 2.5% shares of "China Unicom (H.K.)" for HK$6.66 billion (HK$11.14 per share)[34]:379

During year 2016, Telefónica sold a further 1.51% shares of "China Unicom (H.K.)" for HK$2.822 billion (HK$7.8 per share),[34]:379 As of 31 December 2016 Telefónica owned 1% shares of the red chip company (decreased from 2.51% year-to-yearly), as well as Telefónica's director César Alierta, still served as a director of "China Unicom (H.K.)".[34]:62

Equity investments

As of 31 December 2016
  • PCCW (18.46%, held by unlisted portion of China Unicom Group)[35]
  • Telefónica (1.27%, held by Hong Kong listed subsidiary "China Unicom (H.K.)")[34]

See also


  1. ^ Wang Xiaochu, Lu Yimin and Li Fushen were also chairman and directors of China United Network Communications Limited;[3] Wang Xiaochu was the chairman and CEO of China Unicom (H.K.), Lu Yimin was the president and director and Li Fushen was the CFO and director.[4]
  2. ^ Shao Guanglu was also the director of China United Network Communications Limited[3]
  3. ^ Jiang Zhengxin was also the chairman of the supervisory board (Chinese: 监事会主席) of China United Network Communications Limited[3]
  4. ^ An indirect unit holder of the fund (Chinese: 深圳市腾讯产业投资基金; literally: "Shenzhen Tencent Industry Investment Fund"), was owned by some managers of Tencent. It was stated as a "new OPCO" (new operating company) of Cayman-incorporated listed company Tencent Holdings.[19]
  5. ^ One of the unit holder of the fund was indirectly owned by Baidu Netcom Science Technology (Chinese: 百度网讯科技); the stake of Baidu Netcom was 99.5% owned by Robin Li; the stake was pledged to Baidu Online Network Technology (Beijing) (Chinese: 百度在线网络技术(北京)), an indirect subsidiary of Cayman-incorporated Baidu Inc., thus it was considered as part of Baidu Group.[20] Another indirect unit holder (Chinese: 北京鼎鹿中原科技), owned by some of the managers of Baidu, was linked to Baidu by the Chinese media, but Baidu denied to comment.[21]
  6. ^ The indirect unit holder of the private equity fund (Chinese: 江苏京东邦能投资管理有限公司; literally: "Jingdong Bangneng Investment Management") was 45% owned by Liu Qiangdong founder of JD.com (Jingdong) and 55% by Sun Jiaming (Chinese: 孙加明), a senior manager of JD.com. Jingdong Bangneng was listed as a consolidated variable interest entity of JD.com[22]
  7. ^ The stake of the company was 80% owned by Jack Ma, but also pledged to Alibaba Group. It was considered as a subsidiary and/or consolidated entity of Alibaba Group.[23]


  1. ^ a b c "2016 Annual Report" (PDF) (in Chinese). China United Network Communications Limited. 16 March 2017. Retrieved 25 August 2017. 
  2. ^ "领导成员" [Leaders] (in Chinese). China United Network Communications Group. Retrieved 25 August 2017. 
  3. ^ a b c "董事、监事及高级管理人员" (in Chinese). China United Network Communications Limited. Retrieved 27 August 2017. 
  4. ^ "2016 Annual Report" (PDF). China Unicom (Hong Kong). 31 March 2017. Retrieved 27 August 2017. 
  5. ^ "Airtel becomes third largest globally". NDTV. 30 June 2015. 
  6. ^ "China awards 3G licences". 2009. 
  7. ^ a b "关于同意组建中国联合通信有限公司的批复" (Press release) (in Chinese). State Council (China). 14 December 1993. Retrieved 25 August 2017. 
  8. ^ CHENG, Jingsheng (19 October 2006). "中国联通CDMA澳门本地业务开通" (in Chinese). C114中国通信网. Retrieved 24 October 2017. 
  9. ^ "China Unicom Subscriber Data". Archived from the original on 2011-10-04. 
  10. ^ a b "ROUNDUP China Unicom acquires Netcom, sells CDMA assets as telco reorg takes off". Forbes. 2 June 2008. Archived from the original on 4 June 2011. Retrieved 10 June 2008. 
  11. ^ "Prospectus" (PDF) (in Chinese). China United Network Communications. 17 September 2002. Retrieved 26 August 2017. 
  12. ^ a b "2002 Annual Report" (PDF) (in Chinese). China United Network Communications. 2 April 2003. Retrieved 26 August 2017. 
  13. ^ "Report of the Directors". 2002 Annual Report. China Unicom (Hong Kong). 14 April 2003. 
  14. ^ "China Netcom / China Unicom Press Release about Merger". 
  15. ^ "China telecom companies agree to $56 billion merger". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 2008-06-10. 
  16. ^ "China Unicom Hongkong". Archived from the original on 2013-01-18. 
  17. ^ "China Cloud Computing Industry Alliance Established". BrightWire. Archived from the original on 2012-07-24. 
  18. ^ , 志刚 (28 August 2017). 联通混改“得”与“失” ["Pros" and "Cons" of the mixed-ownership reform of China Unicom]. The Financial Times (Chinese edition) (in Chinese). Retrieved 17 November 2017. 
  19. ^ "2014 Annual Report" (PDF). Tencent. 2015. Retrieved 28 August 2017. 
  20. ^ "2016 Annual Report" (PDF). Baidu. 2017. Retrieved 27 August 2017. 
  21. ^ "百度"曲线入股"华策影视 鼎鹿中原10亿参与增发". 新京报 (in Chinese). re-published by ifeng.com. 9 October 2014. Retrieved 27 August 2017. 
  22. ^ FORM 20-F
  23. ^ "List of Significant Subsidiaries and Consolidated Entities of Alibaba Group Holding Limited" (SEC filing). Alibaba Group. 
  24. ^ 邓, 元杰 (22 August 2017). "联通混改的本质" (in Chinese). Sina. Retrieved 25 August 2017. 
  25. ^ "非公开发行A股股票预案" (in Chinese). China United Network Communications. 21 August 2017. Retrieved 25 August 2017 – via cninfo.com.cn. 
  26. ^ "BRIEF-China Unicom Hong Kong enters share subscription agreement with controlling shareholder Unicom Bvi". Reuters. 22 August 2017. Retrieved 27 August 2017. 
  27. ^ "China Unicom launches UK MVNO on O2's network". Global Telecoms Business. Retrieved 26 May 2017. 
  28. ^ "Completion of Discloseable Transaction - Increase in Shareholding Interest in the Company by Telefonica and Investment by the Company in Telefonica" (PDF). China Unicom (Hong Kong). 21 October 2009. Retrieved 25 August 2017. 
  29. ^ "Telefonica and China Unicom strengthen ties". BBC News. 23 January 2011. Retrieved 23 January 2011. 
  30. ^ "Telecommunications - China Unicom and Telefonica Strengthen Strategic Alliance". telecommunications.tmcnet.com. Retrieved 26 January 2011. 
  31. ^ "Telefonica and China Unicom". Telefónica. [dead link]
  32. ^ "Spain's Telefonica sells Unicom stake for $1.4B". the jakarta post. June 11, 2012. Archived from the original on June 13, 2012. 
  33. ^ "Announcement" (PDF) (Press release). China Unicom (Hong Kong). 10 June 2012. Retrieved 25 August 2017. 
  34. ^ a b c d "2016 Annual Report". Telefónica. 2017. Retrieved 25 August 2017. 
  35. ^ "2016 Annual Report" (PDF). PCCW. 14 February 2017. Retrieved 25 August 2017. 

External links