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China will Surpass U.S. in Internet Users

With an estimated 1.3 billion people within its borders, it’s just a matter of time before Chinese Internet users become the most populous group on the Web. According to a report issued by the Chinese government on Thursday, the country is well on its way.

China now boasts 162 million Internet users, with 122 million connecting through broadband and another 40 million using dial-up. This places China second only to the United States in the sheer number of Internet users, which has 211 million. Experts predict that China will surpass the U.S. by 2008, or even sooner.

The rapidly expanding economy and huge population have made Internet access explode in China. As recently as the end of 2006, the country counted just 137 million users, meaning access has expanded by 8.5 percent in only six months.

Considered against its population, the density of China’s Internet users remains quite low. Even with the latest numbers, only 12 percent of the Chinese population has access to the Internet, compared to 69 percent in the United States and 86 percent in the world’s most connected country – Iceland.