Beijing: China`s online population, the largest in the world, is now more than the entire population of the United States, touching 338 million by the end of June after a surge of 40 million in the first six months of 2009.
China had 338 million Internet users by the end of June, up 40 million from the end of last year, according to the state-run Xinhua news agency, which cited a report by the China Internet Network Information Center.
The number of broadband Internet connections rose by 10 million to 93.5 million in the first half of the year, data released by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) revealed.
More than 90 percent, or 1,734 of China’s villages had access to the Internet by early June, said the MIIT data. About 95 percent of townships were connected to broadband, and 92.5 percent of natural villages had telephone coverage, the report said.
China`s top three telecommunication operators—China Telecom, China Mobile and China Unicom - are expected to make major investment to the tune of 280 billion yuan (USD 40 billion) to improve 3G network in between 2009-2010, vice president Lu Xiangdong of China Mobile was quoted as saying in the report.
China`s vast online population has often proved to be a headache for the government in times of political upheavals, with the government forced to enforce media control as seen during the social unrest in northwest Xinjiang region and last year in Tibet.