China name change and focus

With about 50,000 radio amateurs, the country with a quarter of the world's population is adopting the new name of the Chinese Radio Amateur Club (CRAC), and going is compulsory membership of a sports-orientated body.

The CRAC will replace the Chinese Radio Sport Association (CRSA) that has existed since 1976. Through the earliest permitted amateur radio station BY1PK on March 29, 1982, the CRSA had played an important role.

In a report to the International Amateur Radio Union Region 3 conference held in Ho Chi Minh City, it said that from 1992, only a sports organisation could transmit and the CRSA helped the authorities on amateur radio.

Under those soon-to-be-replaced regulations, anyone seeking for licence must first join the radio-sports organisation.

Since then, amateur radio in China has grown into a significant radio service among others, and received more support and care from the radio administrations. Although currently steady at 50,000 there were 10,000 newcomers each year.

The hams are spread over all China and well out of the service range of sports organisation system. The old management system adopted no longer works.

Most CRSA resources are in radio-sport activity, like Amateur Radio Direction Finding. To better promote the development the amateur radio, a new national amateur radio organisation, Chinese Radio Amateurs Club has been established.

The CRAC will actively participate in domestic regulations, conduct exams and licensing, create band plans, develop emergency communications,  amateur satellites, and work through the IARU.

It will organise nationwide amateur radio cooperative projects such as amateur radio emergency networking, give suggestions and help to local amateur radio groups, and the CRAC will work with the CRSA on kids education and the ARDF.

Already being trialled for emergency communications is a new mode, low cost weak signal error correcting data transmission over HF using the Chinese characters, begun on a Software Defined Radio receiver network, an internet based emergency alarm system and training.

The CRAC has reviewed recent earthquakes, mudslides, storms and other disasters. The study shows the most important roles that radio amateurs can play in sudden devastating disasters where normal communications are damaged or destroyed.

It has a number of strategies in response including the push for growth of amateur radio to provide sufficient numbers in any disaster area, and to modernise infrastructure including VHF and UHF repeaters.

Meantime China is waiting on its new regulations that will have simplified licencing including those for visitors, nationwide mobile operation, open exam question banks, and for the first time in 30 years freedom of membership choice for the individual.