China`s internet population rises to 477 million

The number of internet users in China reached 477 million as of the end of March, while websites registered with the authorities climbed to 3.82 million.

Last Updated: May 16, 2011, 19:07 PM IST

Beijing: China`s internet population rose
to 477 million in the first three months of this year with 20
million new subscribers joining the world`s largest online
market.

The number of internet users in China reached 477
million as of the end of March, while websites registered with
the authorities climbed to 3.82 million, said Wang Jianwen,
deputy head of the Telecommunications Administration Bureau.

China`s internet population was pegged around 457
million at the end of 2010, which was up by 73.3 million from
the previous year.

While Chinese government takes pride that its online
population continued to be the largest in the world, there is
a growing concern it is also resulting in emergence of social
media like qq.com, which is similar to Twitter. Both Twitter
and Facebook are banned in China.

According to a recent survey, the country has over 100
million microblogers, who had emerged as a new media,
challenging the hold of the official media.

"We feel that internet culture and environment is
getting more complicated and there has emerged a group of
people called `internet mercenaries`," Zhao Qizheng, spokesman
for the annual session of the National Committee of the
Chinese People`s Political Consultative Conference said in
March this year.

He was apparently referring to the dissident groups
making use of the net to call for anti government protests.
Wang said while the rapidly-developing internet has
been shaping social relations, the economy, and culture, there
is a surge in online fraud, pornography and illegal publicity,
disrupting online communications and the market economy.

Also officials said that companies are recruiting
"Internet mercenaries" to engage in improper competition
against rivals, such as fabricating or distorting facts that
can lead to blackmail, and seeking to reap profits by
sensationalising issues via the internet.

At the meeting, representatives from 140 major Chinese
websites signed a self-discipline pact, vowing that they would
never organise or take part in any form of illegal publicity
on the Internet.

China launched a two-month campaign in the middle of
April to crack down on illegal publicity activities on the
internet.

PTI