China has the largest internet population in the world — its 230 million users nearly equals the size of the entire U.S. population. If last year is any indication, the number of Chinese users will continue to rise quickly: In 2007, the number of users increased by 73 million to 210 million, representing a growth rate of 53.3 percent, according to the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC).
Driven by breakneck economic development, web access is quickly coming to more and more of the country’s 1.3 billion people — and traffic to e-commerce sites is booming (even if transactions aren’t — more on that shortly).
But don’t let those numbers fool you. Even though internet use is spreading quickly, the current penetration rate of 16 percent is still 3.1 percentage points lower than the world average of 19.1 percent and far below advanced internet nations such as Norway (88 percent), the U.S. (71.7 percent), South Korea (71.2 percent), and Germany (64.6 percent). In metropolises like Beijing and Shanghai, however, the penetration rate reaches almost 50 percent.
The tremendous growth in user numbers cited by the CNNIC is also largely due to many new connections in rural areas. In 2007 the growth rate in rural areas even exceeded the 100 percent mark, reaching 127.7 percent. By the end of 2007 rural internet users amounted to 52.65 million, and out of all new users last year, 40 percent, or 29.17 million, are from rural areas, according to the CNNIC.
Read on here!