China's Internet population hits 485 million

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The Independent Tech

China's online population, already the world's largest, hit 485 million users at the end of June - up 6.

1 percent from the end of 2010, a government-linked industry body said Tuesday.

The survey released by the China Internet Network Information Centre shows an increase of 27.7 million web users since December - almost equivalent to the entire population of Malaysia.

It means that more than a third of China's 1.3 billion population is online.

Weibo, a popular Twitter-like service, saw its number of users jump to 195 million at the end of June, from 63.11 million at the end of last year, the survey showed.

Hailed by Chinese netizens as a new avenue for mass expression in a tightly controlled information landscape, Weibo has become "a form of Internet application that has the fastest growing number of users", the survey said.

The number of people surfing the web on mobile phones reached 318 million, up by 14.94 million from six months ago, it added.

The Internet has also become an increasingly popular marketplace.

The number of users shopping online rose 7.6 percent from the end of last year to 172.66 million.

The growing strength and influence of the web population has fuelled concern in Beijing about the Internet's potential as a tool for generating social unrest, and authorities have stepped up surveillance in recent years.

The government blocks web content that it deems politically sensitive in a vast system dubbed the "Great Firewall of China".