By Michael Evans
The number of internet users in China rose 10 percent last year, bringing the country’s total population of netizens to 564 million, the AP reports.
Driven by a surge in mobile Web surfing, the country added 51 million new Internet users, a number bigger than the population of Spain, the China Internet Network Information Center reported. It said the number of Chinese Web surfers who go online from mobile phones, tablet computers and other wireless rose 18.1 percent last year to 420 million.
Nearly 75 percent of netizens use their mobile phones to go online, up from 69 percent in 2011, while two-thirds of Weibo users access their microblogs from their phones.
The number of online shoppers saw significant growth in 2012, jumping nearly 25 percent from the previous year and including over 42 percent of all internet users.
While China’s internet must still face issues ranging from increasing government control to lagging broadband speeds, observers see little reason to doubt continued growth in the future.
A UN report last September estimated that the number of Chinese-language internet users would overtake English users by 2015.