China’s Internet numbers rise sharply to 45.8M

The number of Internet users in China has risen 35.5 per cent in the first half of 2002 to reach 45.8 million, according to the latest semi-annual survey by the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC).

China now ranks third in terms of the number of Internet users behind the U.S. and Japan, CNNIC said, although Japan subscriber figures are often inflated by including the large number of people who access the Web via their cellphones.

A Nielsen//NetRatings Inc. survey carried out earlier this year suggested that China has overtaken Japan in the number of Internet subscribers, although it remains well behind the U.S. subscriber figure of 166 million.

China’s subscriber numbers still represent an Internet penetration rate of just 3.6 per cent, although the ability to grow that figure will be hampered by the relative lack of telephone infrastructure, which currently only reaches about one-third of the population.

Of China’s subscribers, 2 million, or 4.4 per cent, access the Internet via broadband links. Around 1.3 million subscribers use devices other than computers, such as information appliances or mobile terminals, to access the Web, CNNIC reported.

CNNIC said that local experts attribute the fast increase in the number of Internet users to government efforts to build infrastructure and restructure the telecommunications industry.

China has around 300,000 Web sites of which 126,000 are hosted under the .cn country code, CNNIC reported. Beijing is the host computer centre of the country with 31 per cent of .cn hosts located there, well ahead of Guangdong province and Shanghai.

China’s Internet subscriber population is 60 per cent male and 70 per cent of subscribers are under 30 years of age. The average user stays online for an average 8.3 hours per week, sends 5.3 e-mails per week and receives 6.5 genuine e-mails as well as 6.9 junk e-mails per week, according to the results of the survey.

CNNIC issues a half-yearly report on the state of China’s Internet use, and has done so since October 1997, when it reported a total of 620,000 Internet subscribers in China. The current report can be found online at: