BEIJING – China, already the world leader in cell phone use, has surpassed the United States as the No. 1 nation of Internet users.
The number of Chinese on the Internet hit more than 220 million as of February, according to estimates from official Chinese statistics by the Beijing-based research group BDA China. The government is likely to confirm the leap at its half-yearly report in July.
The longtime Internet leader, the U.S., which founded and developed the network of computers, had 216 million users at the end of 2007, according to Nielsen/Net Ratings.
The percentage of American users – 71 percent – still exceeds China’s 17 percent. China has 1.3 billion people, compared with nearly 304 million in the United States.
China, however, has a higher growth rate, says BDA’s chairman, Duncan Clark.
At the end of 2007, China’s Internet users reached 210 million, a jump of 53 percent from the previous year, says Zhang Shanshan, media director for the China Internet Network Information Center, which gathers statistics for the Ministry of Information Industry. The current figure is a huge jump from the 2007 total, Zhang says.