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China: Technology Penetration

Internet Usage

Unofficial estimates have already placed China ahead of the United States in the number of internet users per country. Official estimates however place the number of internet users at 210 million, just shy of the 215 million users in the United States. This represents a staggering growth of 106 million users since Deceber 2006. The growing affluence of the Chinese population, coupled with a government policy to promote consumption rather than saving, has contributed to this monumental increase. As a percentage of population though, internet pentetration is at 15.9%.

A comparison with other Asian countries is provided below, together with statistics of the U.S.A.

Source: Internet World Stats

Internet Users Internet Penetration Usage Growth (2000-2007)
China 210,000,000 15.9% 833.33%
Hong Kong 4,878,713 68.2% 113.7%
South Korea 34,910,000 71.2% 83.4%
Japan 87,540,000 68.7% 85.9%
India 60,000,000 5.3% 1100.0%
USA 215,088,545 70.9% 119.4%

General Information about the Internet users

(Data taken from the detailed survey conducted by the China Internet Network Informations Center)

Almost 60 percent of all users are male and around 70 percent of the population is below 30 years of age. Internet penetration is higher in the urban areas (over 20 percent) versus the rural areas (slightly above 3 percent). Students comprise around a third of all internet users, with business workers contributing another thirty percent. An interesting note is the rapid increase in the number of broadband users and users who access the internet through mobiles.The average Chinese internet user spends roughly 16.2 hours online per week.

Internet Users are Young

China - Social Media and PR across Asia69.0% of the internet users in China are below 30 years of age while only 4.1% are above 50 years old. The median age for Chinese citizens is 32.7 years, but the median Internet age is between 18 to 24 years old. Internet penetration is the highest for the 18 to 24 years old segment (31.8%). followed by the 25 to 30 segment (18.1%). Penetration among 31 to 35 year olds is 11.0% and 8.4% for the 36-40 segment. 19.1% of users are below 18.

Male users exceed female users

The number of male (57.2%) Internet users is much higher than the female (42.8%) Internet users. Internet penetration is higher among males (11.9%) as compared to females (9%). The difference is much smaller in the below 18 segment, where the ratio is almost at 1:1. However the number of males users relative to female users has decreased over the last year (from 58.3 to 57.2 percent).The number of females reached 57.1 million users, a 24.2% increase over the year. The growth rate of female internet users has exceeded that of the males. In December 2000, the percentage of male users was almost seventy percent. Thus an increase can be seen in the proportion of women relative to men, although the number of users in both segments are rapidly increasing. The difference between male and female users in urban areas (55.9% male; 44.1% female) is much lower than that of rural areas (62.7% male; 37.3% female).

Most Internet Users are Unmarried

The number of unmarried (57.8%) Chinese citizens using the Internet exceeds the number of married (42.2%) users. This follows on the trend of a younger internet population. However the ratio of married to unmarried users is moving towards parity, which implies strong growth in the number of married users.

Educational Degree

Internet User's Educational Background (in percentages)

Below Secondary 6.7%
Secondary School 21.1%
High 36.0%
Junior College
Undergraduate 16.1%



There has been a steady increase in the number of internet user's with lower education levels and 36.2% of users now have a tertiary degree as compared to 86.2% in 1999. As can be expected urban users had higher education levels than rural users.

Home is the preferred location of access

China - Social Media and PR across AsiaInternet users in China predominantly access the internet from their homes. 140 million people or 67.3% of netizens choose to access the internet from their homes. The percentage of people accessing the internet from their work place has dropped from 33.4% to 24.3% .There has been an increase in the number of users who access the internet from Internet Cafes (from 32.3% to 33.9%). The number of users from the "Public places" segment has increased marginally from 0.8 to 0.9% while the number accessing from "Other Places" has doubled from 0.1 to 0.2%.

The rise in the number of people accessing the internet from home can be attributed to the rise in the number of home PC's, an uptake in the number of community broadband connections as well as a reduction in the application costs. Furthermore, home is the most convenient place to use internet (we must bear in mind that most Internet users are below 25 to 30 years old and are students, hence can work more at home).

Average Monthly Internet Cost – 79.4 RMB

On average, Chinese internet users pay 79.4 RMB per month for internet use. This does not include online service fees. Compared to last year, users are saving 20.1 RMB for accessing the internet (a 19.4% savings). Lowered costs has made it possible for more and more people to access the internet as it is more affordable.

Internet Penetration is Higher in The Urban Areas

December 2005 December 2006 December 2007
Urban Areas 16.9% 20.2% 27.3%
Rural Areas 2.5% 3.1% 7.1%
Whole Nation 8.5% 10.5% 15.9%

Internet penetration is rising in both urban as well as rural area with the development of domestic internet. However the rate of growth for urban areas is exceeding that of rural areas. In the urban areas, the penetration rate is around 4 times that of the countryside.

Method of Access (in millions)

Broadband 77.8%
Mobile 24.0%
Dial-up 11.1%
Others 5.5%

Number of users who simultaneously use other surfing devices is approximately 1.8 million.

The number of broadband and mobile phone users has been increasing rapidly every year. An estimated 50.4 million people are now accessing the internet through mobile phones. Growth in the mobile phone segment is limited by the fact that 3G technology has yet to be implemented in China. The high cost of the subscription package is another factor in this equation. There are 400 million mobile users in China at present and the penetration of mobile internet can is projected to greatly increase in the near future.

January 2008: Link to report on Internet use in China.

About China - Social Media and PR across Asia

Latest page update: made by steph.siow , May 27 2008, 12:09 PM EDT (about this update About This Update steph.siow Edited by steph.siow

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