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July 17, 2009

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Internet user base grows 15% to 338m

CHINA'S Internet user base hit 338 million by the end of first half this year, 15 percent higher than six months ago, partly because more people are using mobile phones to access the Internet, a state-level Internet research body said yesterday.

The Chinese dot-com economy was little influenced by the global financial crisis with the exception of travel Websites. Online game and search market revenue boomed in the first six months, according to the China Internet Network Information Center.

China's 338 million Internet users equate to a penetration rate of 25 percent, higher than the world's average of 23.8 percent, according to CNNIC.

"China has the world's biggest Netizen base," CNNIC said. "More importantly, it has great potential."

By the end of last month, the Internet penetration rate was more than 70 percent in the United States and South Korea, almost triple China's level.

More than 150 million people accessed the Internet through mobile phones, accounting for 46 percent of the total Internet base in China. The mobile Internet base will continue to rise because China issued 3G licenses in January, CNNIC said.

With the 3G networks, mobile phone users can enjoy high-speed Internet access and other services such as video calling and film downloading.

China's most popular Internet activities were online gaming, instant messaging, searches and cyber forums. "In the slump economy, people choose to spend money and time at home, like playing games online," CNNIC said.

This year Chinese online game revenue will pass 20 billion yuan (US$4.3 billion), from 18.4 billion yuan last year, according to CCID Consulting, a research firm.



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