The analysts are right to note that many other telcos have been, tried, and come home again, but that applies beyond telecomms. Many companies in different sectors have taken the slow boat to China, but found that they can't add sufficient skill or value to overcome the regulatory, political, and cultural issues, and they've been forced to retreat. This includes some of the world's biggest and meanest retailers, the largest and most agressive banks. Admittedly some Western product companies have managed to do well on the basis of "show off brand" value to the emerging rich/middle classes, but even the internet and energy giants have found that it is a struggle that they don't usually win.
So I think the interesting thing here is to ask what the **** was going through BT's director's tiny brains when they thought that (a) unlike every other infrastructure/channel/intermediary/retail business why will lardy-bottomed monopolist BT be able to bring home piles of Chinese gold, and (b) why do they think that whining that it isn't fair will change things? Smells like they've had some expensive management consultants in, who bedazzled them with 160 page decks of Powerpoint, blowing off about China's growth rates and market size. But I'm sure that the BT board are worth every penny of the £6.6m they collectively pocketed last year.
Going back a few years, they saw everybody piling into BPO and infrastructure support, so they had to do that too as BT Global Services, and that all ended in tears with a £1.6 billion write down, as more than a few Reg readers will know. China has rightly told them to go forth and multiply, so their next idea for losing shareholders money is to get involved buying football rights, there's another sensible decision, based on the considerable media rights expertise BT has! They are paying around £500m for rights to 38 matches, so to break even (allowing for financing and bid costs) they've got to make an incremental profit of £15m from each of those games, half of which aren't even exclusive to BT. According to BT's own wishful thinking, this "investment" will win back customers, "drive fibre", increase loyalty, and open up the market.