China now has 632 mn internet users

22 July 2014

China is now home to 632 million internet users, although use of social networks had dropped amid a crackdown, AFP reported.

The Asian giant's internet population, defined as those who had gone online at least once in the past six months was up by 14 million since January, according to the China Internet Network Information Centre (CNNIC).

The centre said mobile phone users represented a huge share of the online population, with 527 million people in China accessing the internet using mobile devices in the six months to June.

But with the number of users of services such as online games, banking and shopping increasing, use of social networks had declined according to the report.

CNNIC said 257 million people used social networking sites during the period, down from 278 million in its last set of figures in December -- a 7.4 per cent drop.

The fall comes with a crackdown over the past year on social media sites such as Sina Weibo, a Chinese Twitter equivalent, and Tencent's WeChat, an instant messaging platform that allows users to send text, photos, videos and voice messages over mobile devices.

China already has a subscriber base larger than that of any other country in the world and is home to a huge e-commerce market.

Beijing had maintained tight controls over the internet, blocking websites it deemed politically sensitive in a system dubbed the "Great Firewall of China" and obliging social media companies to censor user-generated content.

Meanwhile, Reuters reported that the number of China's internet users going online with a mobile device - such as a smartphone or tablet - had overtaken those doing so with a personal computer (PC) for the first time.

According to CNNIC, the company's total number of internet users had increased 2.3 per cent to 632 million by the end of June, from 618 million at the end of 2013.

China, the largest smartphone market in the world, is expected to account for nearly one-third of the expected 1.8 billion smartphones shipped by 2018, data firm IDC reveals.

The increase in internet users was mainly driven by mobile, which increased 5.4 per cent from the 500 million users at the end of 2013. The number of mobile shoppers increased 42 per cent from December through June.

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