China has 649 million people online, less are microblogging

China has 649 million people online, but they are drifting away from microblogging sites after a government crackdown on free speech.

PTI| Last Updated: Feb 03, 2015, 21:47 PM IST

Beijing: China has 649 million people online, but they are drifting away from microblogging sites after a government crackdown on free speech.

China's online population was already the world's largest.

Of those counted in the government-backed China Internet Network Information Center's annual report released Tuesday, 557 million were using mobile devices.

The number of microblog users dropped in 2014 by 32 million to 249 million, a decline that shows the sites failed to recover from the 2013 crackdown that chilled discussion on China's Twitter-like sites.

Meanwhile, newer products -- especially the instant messaging service WeChat -- are rapidly gaining popularity.

The report also says the number of users of mobile instant message services grew 17.8 per cent to 508 million.