China now has 513 million internet users, more than the population of several countries, a new report published on Monday said.
More than 28 million new users were added in 2011, the report, brought out by the China Internet Network Information Centre (CINNC), the country’s state network information centre, said.
China and India are the two countries where internet usage is expected to boom in this decade; currently there are 121 million net users in India. Keeping in context the population of the two countries, adding up to 2.5 billion people, there is enormous scope for internet expansion in both countries.
The report from Beijing added that more than 69 per cent of China's netizens connect to the internet through mobile telephone; in the last survey that figure was around 66 percent. The actual number of users accessing the internet on their mobile phones has grown to 355 million.
A similar trend is also seen in India. A BBC report from Mumbai earlier this month quoted statistics figures collated by wearesocial.net that showed “346 million Indian mobile users had subscribed to data packages, with more than half of all internet users in the country accessing the web via their mobile phone.”
Many websites like YouTube and facebook are banned in the country but several Chinese equivalents – for example the twitter equivalent micro-blogging site Weibo – have sprung up and doing well.
Internet content is closely monitored by the government in China but the rapid and large expansion of internet users in the country means it will be increasingly difficult to effectively keep watch.
“Major events such as the Wenzhou train crash in July, a hit-and-run that left a severely injured toddler to be ignored in the road and mass protests in Dalian and Wukan, among others, fuelled discussion on the sites,” a BBC report said.
The number of users of China's microblogs saw huge growth in 2011 with numbers nudging the 250 million user-mark. The CINNC defines the internet user as someone over the age of six who uses the net on average at least one hour per week.