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China to have 60 mln bloggers by end-2006

By Staff
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BEIJING, May 6 (Reuters) Blogging is booming in China with the number of bloggers expected to hit 60 million by the end of this year.

China is the world's second-largest Internet market after the United States with more than 110 million users. A survey by Chinese search engine Baidu.com put the current number of blog, or Web log, sites at 36.82 million which are kept by 16 million people, the official Xinhua news agency said on Saturday.

The number of Chinese bloggers is expected to hit 60 million by the end of this year, Xinhua said, quoting a report on China's media industry by the prestigious Tsinghua University.

Zhang Xiaorong, strategy development director of ''Bokee'', which was set up in 2002 and claims the biggest share of China's blogging market, said his company adds about 100,000 blogs a day.

''The expected 60 million bloggers would account for more than half of China's 110 million netizens,'' Xinhua quoted Zhang as saying.

The university report forecast the number of bloggers in China would hit 100 million by 2007. Xinhua did not elaborate.

Although the industry has invested heavily in blogs, none of the blog service providers are making profits, the report said.

A recent report by the Internet Society of China showed nine percent of bloggers write every day, 29 percent write once to three times a week, while 35 percent write four to six times a week, Xinhua said.

The growing stable of e-scribes has attracted homegrown firms and foreign giants like Microsoft, Google and Yahoo Inc.

But the Communist Party's propaganda mandarins are obsessed with control and have closed down some outspoken blogs. Chat forums and online bulletin boards are routinely monitored for controversial political comments and sensitive words such as ''freedom'' and ''democracy'' are censored.

REUTERS PV HS1246

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