The official China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) announced yesterday that the country's online population was now at 210 million, having grown 53%, from 137 million reported at the same time last year, and was well on the way to surpassing the US's within the near future. According to the government's Xinhua News Agency, China is only 5 million behind the United States online, a figure consistent with some American estimates.
Of course, while the numbers look impressive, there's more to the internet usage than pure population. Xinhua placed China's online penetration rate at 16 percent - the point Americans were at in the mid-1990s. According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, 75 percent of American adults are now online; penetration is even higher when teens are included. (China's stats cover Chinese 6 and older.) "We're two countries at very different points along the adoption curve," said John Horrigan, Pew's associate director. "China is approximately 15 years behind."
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