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New Report: China’s Online Population Explosion

25 July, 2007
By Allison Orr

The Pew Internet and American Life Project has released a new report, China’s Online Population Explosion, that gives details of China’s burgeoning Internet population.

According to the report, China how has an estimated 137 million Internet users, and while that is still significantly smaller than the US Internet population, the growth rate in China has been outpacing that of the US, with China expected to overtake the US as the most populous Internet population in just a few years.

Currently only 10% of the Chinese population is Internet users, but this rapidly increasing Internet population is bound to have far-reaching consequences for China and the world.

The report shows that China’s Internet population is young, predominantly male, urban and composed disproportionately of students.  Bridging the gap between urban and rural users is a challenge for the government; currently only 0.4% of Internet users are farmers, with most citing lack of access and relevant skills as the reason for not using the Internet.

The report also puts forward the possibility that the increasing Chinese Internet presence could influence China-US relations, increasing tensions particularly with regard to the different approaches the countries have towards the Internet.  They cite the example of the wife of a jailed dissident suing Yahoo as an example of how this may complicate international relations between the two countries.

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