China to have more web users than US

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The Independent Online

China may be about to overtake the United States as home to the world's biggest number of webizens, but the country's 210 million internet users are unlikely to be spending too much time surfing for porn as the Great Firewall of China seeks to stop smut.

China's 210 million internet users ranks the country just five million shy of the US figure, a 53 per cent rise over 2006, and it could overtake the US early this year, said the China Internet Network Information Centre (CNNIC).

While China's government happily promotes the education and business aspects of the internet, it is swift to clamp down on criticism of the Communist Party or anything it considers pornographic or politically incorrect. With the eyes of the world on Beijing ahead of the Olympics, the focus is on porn.

A campaign to clean up cyberspace has led to the shutting of 44,000 pornographic websites, with 868 arrests. The crackdown was launched by President Hu Jintao, who said that the web posed a threat to social stability.

Last month, the government said it would keep a tight rein on video-sharing websites, and allow only state-controlled sites to post video content online.

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