China now has 591 million internet users, according to the latest official figures from the country. The China Internet Network Information Centre added that 464 million citizens accessed the net via smartphones or other wireless devices.
Its online population is by far the largest in the world, well over twice as large as America’s (the world’s second largest, at 254 million, with India third at 154 million).
The CINIC’s detailed Statistical Report on Internet Development in China (January 2013), available online here, shows that China added over 50 million Internet users in the year to end 2012. Over the half-decade from 2007-2012, the number of Chinese accessing the Internet via mobile phone rose from just over 50 million to almost 420 million. The latest figure of 464 million represents rapidly accelerating growth, and accounts for a significant majority of the country’s Internet users.
Nationwide, Internet penetration rates by December 2012 averaged a little over 42%. They were highest in Beijing (72.2%), Shanghai (68.4%), Guangdong (63.1%), and Fujian (61.3%), and above 50% in Zhejiang, Tianjin, Liaoning, and Jiangsu.