China’s internet users – already by far the world’s most numerous – rose to nearly 700 million last year, authorities said today, more than twice the population of the United States. Beijing imposes strict controls on online content, while e-commerce is a vital part of its efforts to transform the economy into one driven more by consumer demand.
The Asian giant’s internet population — defined as those who have gone online at least once in the past six months — stood at 688 million at the end of 2015, up 39.5 million year-on-year, according to the government’s China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC).
The figure accounts for more than half the people in the world’s most populous country: More than 90% had gone online through their mobile phones, CNNIC reported, while two-thirds had used desktop computers and nearly 40% laptops.
Several Chinese tech firms, led by Jack Ma’s Alibaba, have become multi-billion-dollar giants in recent years as the country’s online population has boomed.
At the same time Beijing blocks websites it deems politically sensitive in a system dubbed the “Great Firewall of China,” and social media companies censor user-generated content.