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The number of online users in China reached 564 million at the end of 2012, with the number of mobile internet users hitting 420 million.
The data was published in a “Report on China’s Rising New Media” by the official Xinhua News Agency on Wednesday.
China’s internet penetration rate has exceeded 42 per cent and the report expects the online population to reach 600 million very soon.
A recent report by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) has shown that China is rapidly becoming one of the biggest e-commerce markets in the world with total sales in 2012 reaching $211 billion.
The fast expansion of network coverage has fuelled a surge in a variety of internet applications, which range from instant messaging and video-sharing to shopping and banking, as well as social networking, the report says.
The spectacular rise of new media, social media specifically, has led Alibaba, China’s biggest e-commerce firm to buy an 18 per cent stake in China’s twitter like micro-blogging platform SinaWeibo for $586 million.
Xinhua’s report cited WeChat, the popular instant voice messaging app developed by internet giant Tencent, as an example of the increasing surge of new media.
The application has attracted 300 million registered users in just two years.
The growing number of applications will help new media become China’s most significant social and information platform, the report says.
With inputs from Xinhua