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China: 111 Million Internet Users in 2005

Research and Markets‘ report Asia Telecom Market, 2005-2006 finds that at the end of 2005, the number of Internet users in China increased to 111 million, making it second only to the United States in terms of the sheer number of citizens using the Internet. (The U.S. tallied some 197.8 million Internet users in 2005.) Japan, India, German, the United Kingdom, and South Korea rounded out the top seven slots, respectively.

The report also highlights that China’s telecommunication industry has sustained a growth rate of more than 20 percent a year, while means the number of telephone subscribers in China may exceed 820 million by the end of 2006, with more than half (440 million) using mobile handsets. Wireless communications in China will account for some $44.6 billion during 2006, some three times the revenue expected to be earned from cable-based communications in China.

Research and Markets’ numbers hit just as major U.S. Internet companies are under increased scrutiny for their business activities in China. Some U.S. lawmakers and policy advocates claim that the Chinese operations of companies like Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft amount to supporting the policies of a totalitarian regime; China currently operates the most widespread and aggressive Internet censorship operation on the planet, and has used information from U.S. companies operating in China to jail writers and other activists it views as undermining state authorities. U.S. companies, for the most part, bemoan restrictions on speech and Internet use enforced in China, but argue the Chinese market is so large they must participate in it, and furthermore must abide by the laws of the countries in which they operate.