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The inside story:
DXing and Broadcasting in China

by Danny Wu

I am glad to be able to introduce the situation of DXers in China to you through DXing.info. Up to now there have been no DX clubs in China, but the Internet has become a vital meeting point for Chinese DXers. I want to point out that there are many hams in China, but this article does not include the introduction of their DX activities.

Map of China

After over twenty years of economic reform, China's broadcasting facilities have improved greatly. One apparent evidence is that almost every city has its FM radio stations. For example, in Fuzhou, capital of Fujian Province, also the place where I live, I know there are a lot of FM radio stations. Besides FM local programs, most cities also have transmitters relaying the programs of China National Radio (CNR).

QSL from Fujian PBS
Fujian PBS confirming reception of their transmission on 882 kHz (QSL to Mika Mäkeläinen)

In some Chinese cities, the audience of FM programs are mainly drivers and young students. The former get information about traffic conditions, while the latter obtain up to date information on entertainment. Therefore, traffic and music channels are always popular.

Radio programs are very commercialized. During the evening prime time, various ads replace political preaching. Radio stations often broadcast vulgar ads like treatment for sexually transmitted diseases to gain more profit, which tends to make many listeners disgusted.

Countryside counts on AM

Jiangsu PBS logoMedium wave is the main broadcasting band for radio stations in the provinces. Compared with FM, there are less commercials on MW.

Certain foreign missionaries use MW stations to preach Christianity to the Chinese people. What is worth mentioning is that these religious radio stations don't seem to be on the government's list of interfered stations.

Nei Menggu PBS logoNevertheless, the medium wave programs sent by Voice of America (VOA) are not so lucky. In the city I live in, I can easily receive medium wave broadcasts from Taiwan, for there is only a strait between Fujian Province and Taiwan. In some higher places of Fuzhou, you can even listen to Taipei's FM programs steadily.

Shortwave is the door to the world

Shortwave radios are most popular in China. It is a cheaper tool to know about foreign countries. Students use it to learn English. In universities, senior students are required to comprehend the English narration broadcast by VOA or BBC.

QSL from Baicheng PBS
Confirmation of reception received by Mika Mäkeläinen from Baicheng PBS on 1323 kHz

Since labor force is inexpensive, many famous international radio manufacturers have made China as their production base, including Grundig, Philips, Sony and Sangean. Some models of Grundig are even designed by Chinese engineers. Because the number of DXers is small, the receivers on the domestic market are usually sold to common consumers. It is difficult to purchase high quality receivers in China.

The price of a Sony ICF-SW7600GR amounts to the monthly salary of a high school teacher. Tecsun HAM-2000 (a Chinese type Grundig Satellit-800) costs a month's income of an average Chinese family. Except for a few top DXers, the majority of radio buffs can only use cheap portable radios to receive signals. The equipment is in shortage. What is worse, it is hard to buy some reference books such as WRTH. In order to get news about foreign DX, they have to surf on line.

DXers' Internet revolution

Internet is a vital tool for China's DXers. Some web sites are their haunts, for instance Mr. Wang Lei's Radio Fans and the famous Radio Forum. They are Chinese-language websites like mine.

QSL from Anhui PBS
Tough to understand?

China's provincial radio stations seldom provide QSL cards. An important factor is that few people know what they are. China's DXers can only send reception reports to foreign stations, requesting their confirmation. Because of language problems and lack of guidance, most DXers have to write letters to stations offering Chinese service.

Chinese government frequently interferes foreign broadcasts to China, and checks printed mail, so the contacts with foreign stations don't always go smoothly.

QSL from Anhui PBS
... well, here's the translation.

Due to such obstacles, DX activities in China are not fully developed. A large number of people don't know what foreign DXers are doing. In my opinion, they are eager to get information and to get help in technical issues from you.

Finally, I would like to say that I am not a real DXer. However, I am fond of searching for weak signals from distant areas with a portable receiver in my leisure time. Quite a few DXers own tabletop receivers and they themselves erect outdoor antennas.

In 1990, when I was still a junior high school student, I was curious about foreign broadcasting stations. In the spring of 2002, I visited Mr. Wang Lei's website. It is reputable among Chinese DXers. There I get plenty of knowledge in broadcasting and DX as well as make friends with many DXers. We often discuss issues in the forum. Occasionally, we have friendly arguments. Without the help of Mr. Xiaoli Qiao we would not have known about DXing.info. It is he who introduced DXing.info in the forum to us.

Another expert who is widely respected is Mr. Miller Liu from Taiwan. He is experienced in DXing. Benefiting from the Internet, we are able to keep in touch with DXers in other countries. I am afraid that I can't tell you the exact number of DXers in China, for we have not had any special clubs up to now. Meanwhile, more and more short wave listeners are becoming DXers. Yet obviously, there are very few female fans in this field.

Nobody interferes my hobby. Most Chinese know how to respect other people's interests. I encounter some friends sharing my hobby even in the local place. Although we do differ in age and identity, it doesn't prevent us from getting pleasure from the electric waves, because common interest is the bridge of friendship.

Fortunately, great changes are taking place in China. Perhaps in the near future, you may learn more reports about China's DX activities.

In the audio section you can listen to Chinese station identifications.

published on June 28th 2002

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Station identifications of Chinese radio stations


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