Statistics from research group BDA China indicate China is now the country with the most Internet users. Internet usage in China allegedly hit 220 million users in February, which is 4 million more than in the US at the end of 2007.
The percentage of American users — 71% — still exceeds China's 17%. China has 1.3 billion people, compared with nearly 304 million in the USA.
China, however, has a higher growth rate, says BDA's chairman, Duncan Clark. By the end of March, for example, Chinese users climbed to 233 million.
At the end of 2007, China's Internet users reached 210 million, a jump of 53% 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.
Clark says the rapid growth is powered in part by China's economic boom. While the government "continues to filter the Net and encourage self-censorship, it also has a mandate to promote cheaper technology and the knowledge economy."