Melbourne, Mar.14 : China has overtaken the United States as far as its web user population is concerned. It now has about 220 million Internet users, while the United States has 217 million web users.
According to BDA China, a Beijing-based technology consulting and research firm, China is expected to have 280 million internet users by the end of 2008.
The Australian said that the US has occupied the number one position since the birth of the Internet in 1969.
The fast-growing online population has made the internet a new forum for average Chinese to express opinions in a free-wheeling way rarely seen on the strictly government-controlled traditional media.
The appeal of the web, however, has stirred Beijing's fears about potential social unrest.