The number of people with access to the internet in China has reached half a billion, dwarfing the entire populations of most countries.
The figure, published by Reuters based on a report from the China Internet Network Information Centre, shows that the internet penetration rate is still only 37.7%, meaning there’s plenty more growth still to come. About 70 million internet users have been added each year since 2008.
The internet is highly regulated in China, with sites which fail to toe the party line frequently censored by the government.
Users have turned to microblogging as a way to circumvent these controls; figures show the number of microbloggers has jumped from 195 million last June to 300 million.
The government has vowed to tighten controls on microblogs in an effort to reassert its online authority; however, as has been demonstrated with attempts to stamp out file sharing in the West, the internet has a way of changing to suit users, rather than authorities.