The number of websites originating in China rose 161 times in four years, but concerns remain that the burgeoning medium is poorly maintained.
The country had 242,739 websites as of the end of June, up from 1,500 in 1997, according to a study released this weekend by the China International Network Information Center. About 26.5 million Chinese people are online now, compared with about 620,000 four years ago.
And as many as 4,900 sites were registered between May and June alone, with an average of 78 new ones shooting up every day, the data revealed.
Yet about half the sites are not linked to other sites and one in three is staffed by only one technician and editor.
The three-month study was conducted from March to June to help quantify Internet access, usage and offerings.
"The outcome is the basis for the establishment of our future systematic database of China's Internet resources," said Zhao Xiaofan, vice-director of the State Office of Information Promotion. China has 692,490 domain names and 159 million web pages, the study also found.
And the country has 45,598 online databases to provide product information, press releases, enterprise lists, governmental policies, laws and regulations and other material.
Yet only a fraction of the records in the databases are updated regularly.
The report also said that only 11.2 percent of the online databases charge for access to information.
Internet analysts say this means there's tremendous business potential.
"In the Information Age, potential users and buyers are numerous, so we should try our best to create even more updated and integrated databases for them," said George CT Chen, president of Sinonets Information Technology (Beijing) Co Ltd.
An official with the Ministry Information Industry (MII) said the survey will trigger further study about China's Internet development.
"The survey is just part of the job," said Yu Kun, an MII engineer. "Next we will study how to enhance the Internet in China and conduct comparative studies with foreign websites."
(China Daily 09/10/2001)