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Nation out to deliver first-class postal service
By Xin Dingding (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-05-20 08:44

Changes to the Postal Law aims to speed up China's mail service, which can see letters to villagers in remote parts of the country take as long as a month to arrive.

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One of the reasons why letters have taken so long to turn up is the fact that more than 4,000 townships do not even have a post office - meaning villagers must go to neighboring townships to collect the mail.

But snail mail should take a leap forward after the newly revised Postal Law, passed in late April, comes into effect on Oct 1.

The law is looking to support postal services in rural areas.

The State Postal Bureau plans to provide a post office in each township by 2012, said Da Wa, a senior official with the bureau.

In the three decades following reform and the opening-up of China, the number of townships with postal offices has fallen, Da said.

"It is because many rural postal offices were closed for losing money," he said.

China Post Sichuan branch, for example, has more than 11,000 postal delivery routes in rural areas, which together cover 180,000 km.

However, only 45,000 km can be reached by motor vehicle. More than 132,000 km are serviced by letter-carriers traveling by foot or bicycle. And some 3,000 km of the 180,000 km of routes can only be reached by horse or donkey.

Each of the 4,891 rural postal offices in Sichuan earns 90,000 yuan a year on average, but spends 170,000 yuan on delivering the post.

The rural postal offices - two-thirds of China's 60,000 post offices are "rural" - have lost nearly 400 million yuan a year in the Sichuan alone, China Post News reports.

The revised Postal Law stipulates that government must subsidize money-losing rural post offices, ensuring villagers should see an improved service.