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Internet Use in China Surges by Almost 25% in 2006

China had 137 million people online by the end of last year, up by almost a quarter from 2005, the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) said Tuesday.


The number of Internet users rose by 23.4 percent to comprise 10.5 percent of the country's population, said the CNNIC in a report.


The statistics were based on telephone sample surveys of 32,325Chinese, and only those above the age of six and use the Internet for at least one hour a week on average were counted as Internet users, said the CNNIC.


Online services like e-mail, search engines, e-commerce, blogs, online news and games saw rapid development, while new technologies had brought new opportunities for the development of the Internet, Minister of Information Industry Wang Xudong has said.


Broadband users exceeded 100 million for the first time to reach 104 million, or 75.9 percent of all Internet users.


Another 17 million Chinese went online via mobile phones, accounting for 12.4 percent of the Internet population.


High costs and low speed were the major factors that prevented more Internet users from going mobile, said the report.


Most of the country's Internet users were male, accounting for 58.3 percent of the total.


The report shows a yawning disparity between the urban and rural areas, with Internet use in cities 6.5 times that in the countryside.


A lack of knowledge of computers and the Internet as well as inadequate access to equipment and networks remained the main difficulties for those who failed to get online, according to the report.


(Xinhua News Agency January 24, 2007)

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