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Last updated on April 20, 2014 at 21:20 EDT

China’s Internet Population Reaches 477 Million

May 16, 2011

A Chinese government official was quoted by state media as saying on Monday that the number of Internet users in China hit 477 million at the end of March.

The Xinhua news agency reported that the official from the Telecommunications Administration Bureau announced the figure at a meeting in Beijing.

The number of people using the Internet in China hit 457 million at the end of 2010, which shows a third of its 1.3 billion population is online.

China is already the world’s largest online market.

The country’s online numbers have turned the Internet into a forum for citizens to express their opinions in a country where the traditional media is under strict government control.

The growing strength and influence of the web population has prompted concern in Beijing about the Internet’s potential tool for generating social unrest.

The government blocks web content that it believes to be politically sensitive in a vast system known as the “Great Firewall of China.”