September 30th, 2011
05:28 AM GMT
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Hong Kong (CNN) – A senior government official says China’s total number of Internet users is now more than 500 million people, state media reported.

That’s more than 60% higher than the entire population of the U.S., where much of the Internet infrastructure was first developed and home to the giants of the industry such as Google, Facebook and  Youtube –  sites whose services are largely blocked in the world’s largest Internet market.

Wang Chen, chief of the State Council Information Office (SCIO), said in his keynote speech at the UK-China Internet Roundtable that the world’s most populous nation now has nearly 40% of its 1.3 billion population online. SCIO is a ministry-level government agency which oversees media and Internet issues in China.

Wang highlighted six areas where the Internet poses challenges for China, including developing its own innovation and safeguarding intellectual properties, but also talked about the challenges social networks hold for China, where Internet companies face strict censorship requirements.

“In the world, more and more people share information via social networks. This has both brought conveniences to people and posed new challenges for social management. The violent crimes that occurred in some parts of the world this year have stimulated people to consider how to prevent the abuse of social networks.”

Use of social media during the UK riots in August led to some discussion of banning use of sites like Twitter and Facebook during the riots, although some have argued there is little evidence that links “flash mob violence” in the UK and the U.S. to social websites.

“At present, China boasts of over 300 million microbloggers,” Wang said.

“All stakeholders should consciously safeguard the solemnity of laws and the norms of social morality. They should refrain from jeopardizing national interests, public interests and the legitimate rights and interests of other citizens,” Wang said. “We must coordinate the safe flow and the free flow of Internet information.”

The conflict between “safe flow and the free flow” of information led search giant Google to pull its search engine operations from China, refusing to follow government requirements on censoring searches after a hacking attack that the company alleged came from China.

Other companies, such as Twitter and Facebook, are blocked in China. China’s huge Internet population has given rise to local giants such as microblogging site Sina Weibo. In recent weeks, there have been rumblings that Sina will strengthen its filtering of discussions on the popular microblogging site.

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Filed under: ChinaTechnology

soundoff (32 Responses)
  1. Sum Yung Gai

    But what they don't mention is that 400 million of them only go online to play Mahjong against each other.

    September 30, 2011 at 6:47 am |
  2. ChinaMan

    Nah, they play QQ farm and CounterStrike

    September 30, 2011 at 7:12 am |
  3. Hans-Ronny

    I bet facebook want those 500 million users.

    September 30, 2011 at 7:21 am |
  4. James

    500 million users, no free speech. Mr. Hu, tear down this wall.

    September 30, 2011 at 7:36 am |
  5. Movie Site

    Chinese is like a swarm.. They are invading us.. Even the internet

    September 30, 2011 at 8:34 am |
  6. Andrew

    The other 60% won't ever go online because they can't afford a computer or just don't want to.

    September 30, 2011 at 9:49 am |
  7. Robert G

    500 million internet users.
    Growing welfare for so many Chinese.
    And no Chinese spring? It's only a question of time I think

    September 30, 2011 at 10:59 am |
  8. Europe

    500 million on line half of them selling crap to west

    September 30, 2011 at 11:59 am |
  9. zaks

    Dats a lot of number for business.

    September 30, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
  10. BigApple123

    Microsoft, Google, Apple,.FaceBook....this must be their frontier the people there have to think about, how to get market share.....

    September 30, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
  11. Tobias

    So that's why half of the gaming live streams are now in Chinese.

    September 30, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
  12. John | Home Business Ideas

    Politically its a matter of time before China break off the grip of its leaders just like Libya and the rest. Business wise, Google and co would be losing a lot of money from not participating in China.

    September 30, 2011 at 8:09 pm |
  13. John Benjamin

    I am sure Google will be renegotiating deals to come back to China..

    John Benjamin,

    September 30, 2011 at 8:11 pm |
  14. Orange

    Even if Google eventually make its way back to China, it would have lost a lot of momentum.

    September 30, 2011 at 11:23 pm |
  15. MonseyNY

    If we think that China can only continue to put out cheap, low quality copycat stuff, then we will be in for a rude awakening. I have been doing business with the Chinese for many years now, and I can see them slowly but surely improving their ability. Sure they can still put out the cheap low quality stuff. But there are already a lot of manufacturers who have moved into the midrange category, and already in a position to innovate products. One must not just measure ability to innovate new products by measuring basic scientific research, which is totally different thing altogether. The Chinese are lacking far behind in basic scientific research, but they have moved up very significantly in the ability to take a current scientific or engineering technology, and innovate from there, the ability to bring new products to market. Taking pleasure from writing derogative remarks about China in internet forums like this one, will not stop the march of China. Americans should not deride the Chinese progress, but instead should be working harder to stay ahead. Unfortunately the situation of education in the USA does not point to a good outcome for Americans.

    September 30, 2011 at 11:35 pm |
  16. arjay

    Hopefully the500million chinese will be able to enjoy uncensored internet just like the others, then you can rationalize and compare.Still chinese users are handicapped.

    October 1, 2011 at 6:24 am |
  17. mike

    Not only facebook and twitter and youtube,CNN video and chin,ese edition of BBC,VOA are also blocked.

    October 1, 2011 at 8:42 am |
  18. Kumar

    Why US is not blocking all Chinese websites which is trying to sell their products in USA if they are going to block google, youtube and facebook? When is US government going to learn that chinese is plundering US wealth?

    God help america!!!!

    October 1, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
  19. Orange

    The Indians are out again in force asking America to block this and that. Indians, go get a life and worry about your own country.

    October 1, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
  20. Pete

    China will rule the world and the US will pay homage.
    Etch this in stone.

    October 1, 2011 at 10:27 pm |
  21. Richard

    "China will rule the world and the US will pay homage.
    Etch this in stone."

    Ha! As someone who's lived and done business in China, I can assure you that China can barely rule itself, much less the world. Also, what the article fails to mention is that 96% of all page views in China are to sites hosted within China, so those 500 million internet users are basically connecting to the world's largest LAN.

    October 2, 2011 at 4:41 pm |
  22. James

    "Safeguarding intellectual properties" suddenly becomes a priority for the Chinese. DON'T MAKE ME LAUGH.

    October 4, 2011 at 6:40 am |
  23. james manson

    Human population explosion is our true problem.

    October 4, 2011 at 7:12 am |
  24. Joseph

    Now you know why downloading pr0n takes so long

    October 4, 2011 at 8:55 am |
  25. mike

    is it just me or do I get the notion that governments are extremely fearful of people with the ability to share information globally and fast...... I wonder why?

    October 4, 2011 at 11:39 am |
  26. el polacko

    if everything is blocked, what the heck are they looking at ???

    October 5, 2011 at 7:31 am |
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