China’s online population, already the world’s largest, rose to 298 million by the end of 2008, almost the same as the entire population of the United States, an industry survey said Tuesday.
The figure is up 41.9 percent from a year ago and is still growing fast, the government-linked China Internet Network Information Centre (CNNIC) said in a report published on its website.
Users in the countryside surged by 60.8 percent year-on-year to 84.6 million, compared with much more modest growth of 35.6 percent in the urban areas, the report said.
The CNNIC report said 117.6 million people accessed the Internet using their mobile phones last year, up 133 percent from 2007.
In addition, over half of the users are bloggers: according to CNNIC via China Daily, there were 162 million Chinese bloggers at the end of 2008.
Internet use is also increasing in its sphere of influence in the countryside. From Times Online:
The report by CNNIC noted that internet use in the countryside was increasing faster than in the cities.
Users in the countryside surged by 60.8 per cent year-on-year to 84.6 million, compared with much more modest growth of 35.6 per cent in the urban areas, the report said.
Also from AFP, via the Strait Times:
Online discontent has recently led to demonstrations in China, according to Xiao Qiang, director of the China Internet Project at the University of California at Berkeley.
As one example, Mr Xiao pointed to taxi strikes in southern China last year that were triggered by online and mobile phone communication.
But Mr Xiao said the sheer number of bloggers and netizens in China made it extremely hard for the government to exert control.
‘Individual bloggers say a few things… but aggregating them together is making a bigger public opinion,’ he said.