The number of China's ".cn" domain names has reached 1.09 million, according to a survey released yesterday.
About 660,000 ".cn" domain names were registered in China last year, an increase of 153.9 percent over the previous year, according to the survey issued by the China Internet Network Information Centre (CNNIC).
"It means that ".cn" domain names have surpassed other domain names, such as ".com" and ".net" as the top option for Chinese users," CNNIC engineer Wang Enhai said yesterday.
The ".cn" suffix is the only domain name totally registered and governed in China.
Mao Wei, another official with CNNIC, said the growth was due to government support, improved services and a lower registration fee. Last year, the registration fee was lowered to the level of other domain names.
He predicted the number of ".cn" domain users would further increase this year as they planned to further reduce the fee.
By the end of 2005, the number of Internet users had increased to 111 million in China, second only to the United States. Some 58 percent, or 64.3 million people, are broadband users.
About 17 million Chinese started to use the Internet last year, reflecting an increase of 18.1 percent over 2004.
Despite the rapid increases, Chinese people's access to the Internet is still lower than the world average, Wang said.
Over two-thirds of the US population has access to the Internet, but the figure is less than 10 percent in China.
By the end of 2005, China had 49.5 million computers linked up to the Internet. There has also been an increase in the use of other equipment, such as information household appliances linked up to the Internet.
Besides traditional online services, such as news, e-mail and research tools, more Chinese netizens surf the Net to download music and movies, to shop online and to complete applications for jobs.
Chinese Internet users spent an average 15.9 hours per week logged on to the Internet in 2005, over one fifth up over the previous year.
"The Internet has touched every corner of Chinese life," said Zhang Chunlin, an official with the Ministry of Information Industry. "Its influence on people is also increasing."
The report also found that six out of ten netizens prefer online payment for online shopping rather than using traditional methods.
Chinese people spent over 100 billion yuan (US$12.3 billion) on connecting to the Internet in 2005.
"It shows the market scale and potential of this sector in China," Wang said.
However, the report found there was a gap between the country's east and west and urban and rural areas in access to the Internet.
Only 2.6 percent of Chinese rural population has access to the Internet, much lower than the 16.9 percent in urban areas.
(China Daily January 18, 2006)