China Internet users soar to 298m

The number of Internet users in China jumped nearly 42% to 298 million by the end of 2008 from the previous year, according to new data.

The new figures, from the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC), cement China's position as the world's largest Internet population.

The number of mobile Web surfers increased 113% to 117.6 million in 2008 and mobile Internet is expected to grow explosively in the next few years after the recent issuance of third-generation (3G) licenses, the state-run agency said.

The Internet penetration rate in China has risen to 22.6%, slightly higher than the world's average of 21.9%, the report said. In addition, the number of Internet news readers has risen to 2.34 million and websites have become a crucial area for publicity.

News portals in China, such as Sina Corp and Inc, are the major sources of information for a large number of Internet users across the country.

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