The company – which is 3.2pc owned by Vodafone – said: “Macroeconomic slowdown, a rising mobile communications penetration rate and changes in the competitive environment of the telecommunications industry in China have posed challenges to the development of our business in the first half of 2009.”
Competition in the Chinese mobile market increased substantially last year after Beijing ordered a major restructuring of the industry. Smaller rivals China Unicom and China Telecom now compete with a full range of services.
China Mobile’s pre-tax profits for the first half inched up 1.7pc to 74bn renminbi (£6.6bn) – in stark contrast to the 31pc growth in the first half of 2008. Revenues rose 9pc to 213bn renminbi.
China Mobile has been striving to improve its network coverage and handset quality to add subscribers. Mr Wang said: “We are hungry for all types of quality handsets.” China Mobile is in talks with Apple about offering its iPhones in China.