The number of Internet users jumped to 298 million between 2007 and 2008, according to a report released by the China Network Information Center (CNNIC) yesterday. According to the BBC, the rise of nearly 42 percent means that the number of Chinese Internet users nearly equals the entire population of the United States.
Mobile Internet users rose 113 percent to 117.6 million, and are set to rise significantly in the next few years, after the recent issuance of 3G licenses to China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom. Readers of Internet news in China have risen to 2.34 million, with news portals Sina Corp and Sohu.com Inc being the major sources of information for a large number of Internet users, according to the report.
The report also stated that the Internet penetration rate in China is now slightly higher than the World's average of 21.9 percent, with the rate for China having risen to 22.6 percent. However, Internet use is increasing faster in the countryside, with a 60.8 percent rise, compared to a rise of just 35.6 percent in cities.
Despite booming Internet use, the Chinese government continues to try and control certain websites, including the BBC's Chinese language news site and Reporters Without Borders, as well as sites relating to Hong Kong and Taiwan. Earlier this month, the Chinese government started a crackdown on sites that it deemed to contain "vulgar" content, including a site often used for posting criticisms of the government.