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China adds 51m new internet users last year, up 10pc

China’s population of internet users rose 10 per cent last year to 564 million even as communist authorities tightened controls on content, according to data released on Tuesday

BEIJING- 564 million internet users: Driven by a surge in mobile web surfing, China PRC added 51 million new internet users, a number bigger than the population of Spain, the China Internet Network Information Centre reported. It said the number of Chinese web surfers who go online from mobile phones, tablet computers and other wireless rose 18.1 per cent last year to 420 million. By 2015, this number is due to reach 700 million of users according to Boston Consulting Group.

Chinese leaders encourage internet use for business and education but try to block access to material considered subversive or obscene and are tightening controls. Online shoppers in the world’s second largest economy, meanwhile, rose 24.8 percent to 242 million. From 2011 to 2015, online retail sales are due to triple according to BCG. The communication tool through internet is due to reach a turnover of over US$ 360 billion.

A law enacted at the end of November requires users to register their names following online complaints about official abuses that rattled communist leaders. In April, China’s most popular microblog services shut down for three days while operators deleted postings considered to have violated censorship rules.

That came as the country’s most severe political crisis in years swirled around the downfall of a senior party figure, Bo Xilai. Authorities closed a dozen websites and detained six people for circulating rumours of a coup.

(Source: Associated Press)

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Luc Citrinot a French national is a freelance journalist and consultant in tourism and air transport with over 20 years experience. Based in Paris and Bangkok, he works for various travel and air transport trade publications in Europe and Asia.