New Delhi, Jul 25: About 253 million Chinese log on to the Internet regularly, making the country the largest web-user market, China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) said on Thursday, July 24. The semi-official organization, regarded as the most authoritative source of statistics on the country's Internet users, said China had overtaken the US in terms of the number of netizens in the first half of this year.
According to www.internetworldstats.com, the US had 218 million net-users till December 31, 2007, and China, 210 million. Based on the US' growth trend, CNNIC estimated its number could have reached 230 million by the end of June. The 22nd CNNIC study on Net development since 1998 was based on telephone interviews with 16,000 people across China and an unspecified number of people on the Net, reports The China Daily.
"Although the number of its users is now the highest in the world, China is far from an Internet power in terms of the rate of penetration and the commercial value of netizens," Liu Bing, chief writer of the CNNIC semi-annual report, wrote on his blog.
Only 19 out of every 100 Chinese have access to the Net, while the ratio is 21 percent worldwide and 72 percent in the US.
High school students were the biggest factor of the high growth rate - 56 percent year-on-year - in the first half of the year, accounting for 39 million of the 43 million new Net users.
People aged below 30 accounted for 69 percent of the total web users.
As many as 214 million people, or 85 percent of all Chinese netizens, use the web to listen to music, download songs, or configure ringtones for their mobile phones.