May 2, 2010

China Internet User Population Still Rising

State media reported Saturday that the number of Internet users in China has surpassed 400 million and accounts for about a third of the country's population.

The official Xinhua news agency said, citing the State Council Information Office, that the online population in the world's most populous nation has reached 404 million.

That is compared to the 384 million users at the end of 2009.

The report said that users who access the Internet with mobile phones was steady at 233 million while the number of people with broadband access reached 346 million.

China's spiraling online population has turned the Internet into a forum for citizens to express their opinions in a way that is rarely seen in a country under such strict government control.

The growing strength and influence of the web population has prompted concern in Beijing about the Internet's potential as a use to discuss social unrest, and authorities have stepped up surveillance in recent years.

The government blocks web content that is politically sensitive in a vast system dubbed the "Great Firewall of China."