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China's Internet Population Booming

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BEIJING - China's Internet population grew 28 percent over the past year to 87 million, while use of broadband and online commerce is soaring, according to a government report.

China now has 31 million subscribers to broadband high-speed lines, an increase of 79 percent over the past six months, the China Internet Network Information Center said on its Web site.

The country aggressively promotes Internet use for business and education, despite an average annual income of less than $1,000 per person.

At the same time, the government tries to crush attempts to use the Internet to spread criticism of communist rule, imprisoning activists for posting political material online. Censors monitor domestic Web sites and block access to foreign sites deemed subversive or obscene.

According to the Network Information Center, more than half of Chinese Internet users plan to start shopping online in the coming year. The finding could give Internet retailers a morale boost as they struggle to fulfill early projections that China's 1.3 billion people would offer a huge online marketplace.

Growth of online commerce has been held back by China's lack of credit cards and poor delivery services. But entrepreneurs are developing new methods for online payment, and distribution is improving.


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