Interesting statistics announced today by the China Internet Network Information Center (CINIC) that 253 million people in the country are now online, meaning China now has the world’s largest number of Net users in the world (topping the US’ 223 million). These numbers are still much inferior to the country’s stock of mobile-phone users (500 million) but nonetheless, the continued growth of China’s online participant community bears watching. Least of all because the current user-base represents a penetration rate of only 19% suggesting that as the country develops, and as infrastructure spreads West throughout China, it will dwarf the rest of the worlds (i.e. start publishing/marketing in Mandarin). CINIC projects the number of Chinese users to grow to 490 by 2012.
The growth of China’s online community has been acknowledged by many within the Chinese Communist Party, including the country’s most powerful leader, Hu Jintao. In mid-June he took part in an online web-chat at the People’s Daily website that marked the first time a senior party official publicly engaged with internet users. While commentators noted that “there was no real substance to the online conversation,” it has since been referred to as symbolic of the central governments acknowledgement of the internet as an important source of public information and public opinion. Read the rest of this entry »