Information age products are catching on fast in China. In Beijing's high-tech retail district of Haidian, vendors show off high-powered Compaq and IBM personal computers. Government officials crowd a networking exhibition to pore over glossy brochures for lightning-fast servers from 3Com Corp and Cisco Systems. Young Chinese women in bars chat gaily into colourful mobile phones from Motorola Inc, Nokia AB and Ericsson And new software releases can draw long queues of buyers eager to try the very latest. Zhang Hongsong, for example, joined hundreds of others recently to buy one of the first Chinese copies of Microsoft's (MSFT.Windows 98. An elated Zhang had to wait past midnight before he could finally clutch his new purchase. "After all, it's not too pricy, so I can pick up a copy to play with," Zhang said in Beijing after shelling out 1,998 yuan (USD240). Zhang's eagerness is repeated throughout much of China, a nation of 1.2 billion people, creating a boom for high-tech goods and offering relief for foreign technology companies battered by Asia's financial crisis. But there are plenty of frustrations for the industry, too. High tariffs, rampant piracy and investment barriers are just a few of the problems.There is also plenty of good news. Growing incomes and an overhaul of musty state industries are fuelling a frenzied rush to get wired. China has offset plunges in spending across Southeast Asia and in moribund Japan. "We've been able to stay flat...

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