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94 Million Internet Users on the Mainland

Around 94 million people on the Chinese mainland were using the internet by the end of last year, according to the results of a recently published survey.

The number represents year-on-year growth of 18.2 percent, Wang Enhai, the director of China Internet Network Information Center, said yesterday in Beijing.

But other surveys have found that the number of internet users in Hong Kong and Macao have not changed dramatically over the past five years, with 51 and 46 percent of local residents already online in the two special administrative regions by the end of 2004.

Jonathan Zhu, a researcher at Hong Kong University, said the percentage of people online in Hong Kong is already the second highest in the Asia-Pacific region, the highest being in South Korea.

The gender divide amongst people using the internet on the mainland is noticeable: only 39.4 percent were female. In Hong Kong and Macao, there was a fifty-fifty balance.

More than half were aged below 25 on the mainland, while the rates of users below 25 in Hong Kong and Macao were 39 and 51 percent.

On the mainland, 32 percent were students, 12 percent professionals and 9 percent from business and service sectors.

Nearly 67.9 percent say they used the web mainly at home, and about 40 percent in offices, internet cafes and schools.

Email, news and search engines were the top reasons to go online, with nearly nine out of 10 saying email was the most important aspect.

The survey also found that users increasingly relied on the web for information -- about 6.3 percent said they used it as an educational tool.

The numbers using online banking did not rise significantly, primarily because of security concerns.

Although only 5 percent said they used online banking in their daily lives, Cyberbank Section Manager Wang Gang of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China said that the coming 10 years will become a "golden period" for online banking on the mainland.

(China Daily January 20, 2005)

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