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Rural project welcomes 14 PC vendors

FOURTEEN personal computer makers have been approved to join the "subsidized home appliance to rural areas" project which aims to boost consumer spending to improve the daily life of 800 million Chinese peasants, the Ministry of Commerce said yesterday on its Website.

Selected home appliances sold to rural residents now enjoy a subsidy of 13 percent provided by the government. Subsidies could be used to buy computers, air-conditioners, water heaters, TVs, refrigerators and washing machines as well as motorcycles and mobile phones.

A total of 183 computer models from the 14 PC firms, which include Lenovo Group Ltd, Founder, Dell Inc, Hewlett-Packard Inc and Acer Inc, have the go-ahead to sell the subsidized products in the rural areas. Seven other PC vendors, including ASUS and BenQ, failed to get approval.

The retail prices of the products range from 1,999 yuan (US$294) to 3,499 yuan. A desktop PC sold in the rural areas should not cost more than 3,500 yuan, according to a previously announced policy.

The government subsidies are designed to encourage rural families to buy household appliances and are expected to increase spending by 1.6 trillion yuan over four years, the Ministry of Finance said last month. Almost two-thirds of China's 1.3 billion people live in rural areas, and household-appliance ownership is 20 years behind that in the cities.

China's PC sales grew 18 percent year on year in 2008 to more than 42 million units. The growth rate was the lowest since 2003 when it peaked at 36 percent, said International Data Corp, a research firm.



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