The number of Internet users in China has surged past 500 million as millions of new Web surfers go online using mobile phones and tablet computers, an industry group reported yesterday.
The popularity of the Internet in China has driven the explosive growth of profitable Web companies and made fortunes for some Chinese entrepreneurs despite government controls on what the public can see online.
The number of Chinese Internet users rose to 513 million last month, up 12 percent from a year earlier, the government-sanctioned China Internet Network Information Center said.
Among them, the number who go online using handheld devices rose 17.5 percent over a year earlier to 356 million.
The popularity of wireless Internet was reflected on Friday in a scramble by Chinese gadget fans and scalpers to buy Apple Inc’s latest iPhone 4S, which sold out within hours of its China launch.
Angry customers shouted and threw eggs at Apple’s flagship Beijing outlet after the company failed to open the store, citing the size of the crowd. Apple postponed further iPhone 4S sales at its stores in China for safety reasons, but said they would be sold online and through its local carrier.
The government encourages Internet use for business and education, but tries to block access to material it deems pornographic or subversive.
The government is strengthening its control over popular microblogs after a bullet train crash in July last year, which killed 40 people, prompted an online outpouring of criticism of the official response.
Microblog services have been ordered to monitor postings content more closely and remove objectionable material, while news media were barred from reporting online material without firsthand verification.