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Internet Users Reach 103 Million: Survey

China is now home to the second largest population of Internet users of any country on the planet, according to a survey released yesterday.

The number of Internet users in China has reached 103 million, second only to the United States.

About 9 million Chinese became netizens in the first half of this year, an increase of 18.4 percent over the same period last year, the survey issued by the quasi-governmental China Internet Network Information Centre (CNNIC) revealed.

However, while more than 67 percent of the US population, about 135 million people, have access to the Internet, in China, the percentage is only about 7.9 percent.

The survey also suggests great potential for growth in online shopping - nearly 20 percent of Chinese Internet users have shopped online at least once.

Online trade volume in the first half of the year is estimated at 10 billion yuan (US$1.23 billion), with nearly half of that amount paid online, CNNIC engineer Wang Enhai said yesterday.

Online games players spent a total of 4 billion yuan (US$493 million) in the six-month period on virtual items such as equipment, arms and identities. "The amazing development in China's Web industry should surely draw attention from foreign investors," analyst Lu Weigang said yesterday.

Most of China's Internet users are well educated and have a hefty purchasing power, Lu said.

The report also said that by June 30, China had 45.6 million computers hooked up to the Net, compared with 41.6 million the previous year.

In addition, more people in China are surfing the Internet by broadband rather than dial-up.

"Listening to music and watching movies online is becoming more popular," Wang said, adding that e-mail, news, and search engines still top the list of the most frequently used services.

The survey also found an increasing number of people use the Internet to search for maps and locations, and most users use search engines to look for websites, software and mp3s.

As for the most common concerns, aside from viruses, Internet surfers said they are most annoyed by pop-up ads and windows. Others expressed worries about fraud, spam e-mail, and fake information on the Net.

(China Daily July 22, 2005)

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