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China Internet Use Exceeds Global Average

China's Internet population grew nearly 42% in 2008, as penetration exceeded the global average for the first time.

The number of people in China using the Internet has reached nearly 300 million, and it just keeps growing. It has more than doubled since 2006, according to figures from the country's Internet Network Information Center.

By the end of the year, 298 million people used the Internet in China, and more than 90% of them did so using broadband, according to the Internet Network Information Center.

Internet penetration in China reached 22.6% by the end of 2008. The global average for Internet penetration is 21.9%. That's another milestone for China. In June of last year, the Internet Network Information Center reported that China's Internet population was the largest in the world. Before that, the United States held the top spot.

Chinese research and consulting firm BDA reported that the number of Internet users in China had reached 210 million by the end of 2007. Nielsen/NetRatings counted 216 million U.S. Internet users at the end of 2007.

While China's figures represent market opportunities, the quality of content, advertising, and e-commerce is better in the United States, BDA said. Still, e-commerce is expected to grow in China, which also boasts the world's largest mobile communications user base with more than 560 million subscribers.

China's government has been criticized for censorship and restricted Internet access and for monitoring its citizens' use of the Internet. The country has jailed bloggers and other writers for their online activities.