103 Million China's Internet Users
By Enrique de Argaez, MBA, webmaster
China's Internet community has grown fast for the last seven years and official statistics show that there are now nearly 103 million netizens in the country. This is a dramatic jump from the 620,000 users recorded in 1997.
The China Internet Network Information Centre's latest report (CNNIC) shows that the number of users grew to 103 million at the end of December 2004. This represents a good increase from the 80 million Internet users registered for 2003.
About 7 million new users were recorded in the second half of last year, a growth similar to the 7 million recorded in the first six months of 2004.
China's Internet population surpassed Japan by the end of 2002, jumping to the second place in the world following the United States.
Although very large in size, the current number of Internet users is only 7.9 per cent of mainland China's total population.
The figures were released by the government-funded CNNIC in its 15th semiannual report, the most authoritative data on the Chinese Internet industry.
The report shows that 30.9 million computers are connected to the Internet, up 20.1 per cent from half a year ago. There are almost 60 million websites, up 25.7 per cent.
The domain names with a suffix ".cn," which indicates their Chinese nationality, has grown 35.7 per cent to above 34 million.
Although young people still account for the majority of Internet users, the makeup of the age groups has been changing.
In 1998, 91 per cent of all netizens were between the ages of 18 and 30. By the end of last year, that number had dropped to 51.3.
At the same time, the percentage of netizens younger than 18 has grown to 18.8.
Some 14.2 million adults aged older than 35 have joined the ranks of Internet surfers in the past six months, expanding the group's share to 17.8 per cent. This group includes some 3 million senior citizens aged 50 and above.
Students and technicians still make up the main body of the Internet community, respectively accounting for 29.2 and 13.7 per cent.
The proportion of male and female Internet users remained at about 3:2 during the past two years. The average time people spend connected rose to 13.4 hours a week. Most users, 66.1 per cent, surf the Internet at home.
Surveys conducted by CNNIC show most people are using the Web to obtain information, including news, e-books and daily life information.
It is interesting that using the Internet for leisure ranks second among users, more than study, getting to know friends, research or sending or receiving e-mails.
Shopping online or doing other e-businesses accounted for only 0.4 per cent of Internet usage.
Despite the growth, analysts fear the development of information technology and its application is disproportioned across the country.
About one third of the population in Beijing and Shanghai are netizens, but in poorer areas such as Henan, Guizhou and Inner Mongolia, only 3 or 4 per cent have online access.
News from http://www.internetworldstats.com