Internet in the People's Republic of China

The first connection of the mainland of the People's Republic of China with the Internet was established in September 20, 1987 between ICA Beijing and Karlsruhe University in Germany, under the leadership of Prof. Werner Zorn and Prof. Wang Yunfeng. Since then the Internet in China has grown to host the largest base of net users in the world. In the past decade, the Internet has emerged as a new cultural phenomenon in mainland China, much like in the West.


China had 220 million broadband users by the end of 2007. Top broadband countries in 2007: China, USA, Japan, Germany A majority of broadband subscribers are DSL, mostly from China Telecom and China Netcom. The price varies at different provinces, usually around US$10 - $20/month for a 1M DSL with unlimited downloads.

Although mainland China has the largest internet population, its penetration of 19.1% lags far behind developed nations like the US and Japan and is also slightly lower than the average Internet penetration rate in the world, 21.1%. Chinese Internet users log an average of 2 billion hours online each week, while the figure for US Internet users stands at 129 million.

Broadband makes up the majority of Internet connections in China, with 214 million users at this service tier. The price of a broadband connection places it well within the reach of the mainland Chinese middle class. Wireless, especially the mobile phone internet access has developed rapidly. 73.05 million or 28.9% of all internet users are mobile phone users. The number of dial-up users peaked in 2004 and since then has decreased sharply.

CNNIC Statistical Survey Reports
Report Date Internet Users Connected Computers .cn Domains Broadband Users Dialup Users Wireless Users International Bandwidth Internet Penetration Rate
2008.07.31 253 M 84.7 M 11,900,144 214 M N/A 73.05 M 493,729 Mbit/s 19.1%
2007.12.31 210 M 78 M 9,002,000 163.4 M 23.4 M 58.8 M 368,927 Mbit/s 16%
2007.06.30 162 M 67.1 M 6,149,851 122.4 M 31.6 M 55.6 M 312,346 Mbit/s 12.3%
2006.12.31 137 M 59.4 M 1,803,393 90.7 M 39.0 M 256,696 Mbit/s 10.5%
2006.06.30 123 M 54.5 M 1,190,617 77 M 47.5 M 214,175 Mbit/s 9.4%
2006.01.17 111 M 49.5 M 1,096,924 64.3 M 51 M 8.5%
2005.07.21 103 M 45.6 M 622,534 53 M 49.5 M 7.9%
2005.01.19 94 M 41.6 M 432,077 42.8 M 52.4 M 7.3%
2004.07.20 97 M 36.3 M 380,000 31.1 M 51.5 M 6.7%
2004.01.15 79.5 M 30.89 M 340,000 17.4 M 49.16 M 6.2%
2003.07.21 68 M 25.72 M 250,000 9.8 M 50.1 M 5.3%
2003.01.16 59.1 M 20.83 M 179,000 6.6 M 40.8 M 4.6%
2002.07.22 45.8 M 16.13 M 126,000 2 M 26.82 M 3.6%
2002.01.15 33.7 M 12.54 M 127,000 N/A 21.33 M
2001.07.17 26.5 M 10.02 M 128,000 N/A 17.93 M
2001.01.17 22.5 M 8.92 M 122,000 N/A 15.43 M
2000.07.27 16.9 M 6.5 M 990,000 N/A 11.76 M
2000.01.18 8.9 M 3.5 M 48,000 N/A 6.66 M
1999.12.05 4 M 1.46 M 29,000 N/A 2.56 M
1998.06.30 1.175 M 542,000 9,415 N/A 460,000
1997.10.31 630,000 299,000 4,066 N/A 250,000


The first four major national networks, namely CSTNet, ChinaNet, CERNet and CHINAGBN, are the backbone of the mainland China Internet. Later dominant telecom providers also started to provide internet services. Public Internet services are usually provided by provincial telecom companies, which sometimes are traded between networks. Internet service providers without a nation-wide network such as the Information Highway could not compete with their bandwidth provider, the telecom companies, and often run out of business.

The interconnection between these networks is a big concern of Internet users, since Internet traffic via the global Internet is quite slow. However, major Internet services providers are reluctant to aid rivals, despite the pressure from the government.

The China Science and Technology Network (CSTNet)

Built on the Chinese Academy of Science Network (CASNET) and the National Computation Facilities of China (NCFC), CSTNet is the first public non-commercial network for research and education in China. The construction began in 1989, and the connection to the global Internet was completed in 1994. Headquartered in the Chinese Academy of Science, CSTNet is one of the four first major networks which are allowed global access.


ChinaNet is the primary national commercial network run by China Telecom. According to China Telecom, ChinaNet is the largest Internet network in the world As of 2006, it has 25 million broadband subscribers ChinaNet is one of the four first major networks which are allowed global access. Its creation divided South China Telecom and North China Netcom in 2000 and was intended to break the telecom monopoly while improving system network structure.

China Education and Research Network (CERNet)

The CERNet is the first nationwide education and research computer network in China. This non-commercial network provides Internet access to academic institutions. CERNet is one of the four first major networks which are allowed global access.

China Golden Bridge Network (CHINAGBN)

As one of The Golden Projects, CHINAGBN was proposed to the State Council by Premier Zhu Rongji in 1993. After the approval in 1996, major expansions occurred in 1998. Currently, the commercial network is operating by Jitong Communications. CHINAGBN is one of the four first major networks which are allowed global access.

China Uninet (UNINet)

UNINet is a network based on China Unicom's universal data network. Started in 1999, it was launched in July 2000, sharing the network with China Unicom's telephone, GSM and CDMA services.

China Netcom's network (CNCnet)

Born on South and North division of ChinaTelecom Company and formed in August 1999 by the State Council, China Netcom launched CNCnet at December 28, 2000 Besides Internet service and Voice service,not including mobile service such as GSM900/1800/1900 and CDMA, China Netcom also provides broadband content such as broadband television programs. In the nearly days China Netcom are eagering to make more progress on mobile field.

China International Economy and Trade Net (CIETNet)

As one of The Golden Projects, the Golden Gate project was proposed to the State Council by Premier Zhu Rongji in 1993. The China Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation (MOFTEC) found China International Electronic Commerce Center (CIECC) in 1996. The network is a secure network focused on electronic commerce, and is linked with global e-commerce networks to process international transactions.

China Mobile's network (CMNet)

CMNet is the Internet protocol backbone network of China Mobile. China Mobile provides GPRS wireless Internet access services via this network.

China Great Wall Net (Cgwnet)

Cgwnet is a non-commercial network being constructed by China Great Wall Communications.

China Satellite Net (CSNet)

CSNEt is a Satellite Internet access network being constructed by China Telecommunications Broadcast Satellite Corp.

China Next Generation Internet

CNGI is the PRC's 5 year plan to implement IPv6 before the rest of the world for increased efficiency, speed, and security.


The June 2007 CNNIC report states that 54.9% Internet users are male, 57.9% are unmarried, and 51.2% are under 25 years old. The majority of Internet users have at least a college diploma. Among the users, 36.7% are students, and 25.3% are enterprise staff. 33.9% users earn more than 1500 yuan a month, however, if student users are left out, this percent goes rises to 53.6%. China's Internet is highly internally referential, with fewer than 6% of China's websites linking to outside the country

In 2003, Internet activists and journalists led an online uprising that eventually forced the abolishment of the Custody and repatriation procedure, and the establishment of the constitutional committee in the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress In June, 2006, New York Times reported the online throngs and Internet hunting fought corruptions but also led to violence


Most users go online to read news, to search for information, and to check email. They also go to BBS or web forums, find music or videos, or download files.

Content providers

Chinese-language infotainment web portals such as, Sohu, and are quite popular among Internet users. For example, Sina claims it has about 94.8 million registered users and more than 10 million active users engaged in their fee-based services. Other Internet service providers such as the human resource service provider 51job and the electronic commerce web sites such as are less popular but more successful on their speciality. Their success led some of them to the make IPOs.

Search engines

Top ten most popular search sites in China
As of November 2007
By Unique visitors aged 15+, excludes traffic from public computers such as internet cafes or mobile phones
Source: comScore qSearch
China Share of searches (%)
Baidu 54.6
Google 17.7
Alibaba 8.7
Yahoo 7.9
Sohu 7.9
SINA 0.7 0.6
Microsoft MSN 0.3 0.2

Baidu is the leading search engine, while most web portals also provide search functionality. Led by Kai-Fu Lee, a former Microsoft executive, Google China has also entered the Chinese market.

Online communities

Although Chinese write less e-mails, they enjoy other internet communication tools and form their communities based on different interests. Bulletin boards on portals or elsewhere, chat rooms, Instant messaging groups and blogs are very active, while photo-sharing and social networking sites are growing rapidly. Some Wikis such as the Chinese Wikipedia are also flourishing.


Much of the attention in the West has been placed on the interaction between the Internet and the authoritarian Communist Party of China.

As one of The Golden Projects, the Golden Shield project was proposed to the State Council by Premier Zhu Rongji in 1993. As a massive surveillance and content control system, it was launched in November 2000, and became known as the Great Firewall of China. However, the blocking of websites can be circumvented and is generally ineffective at preventing the flow of information to determined individuals. The effectiveness of the project is the limitation on access it creates for the majority of users who are not technologically savvy or intent on seeking information. Some argue that it is more effective at providing a Chilling effect rather than actually blocking content.

The Internet has provided some interesting tactics for the dissemination of news. In contrast to some early fears that the fluidity of web content would make it easy to rewrite history and strengthen the hand of the government, the opposite appears true. One common tactic in publishing sensitive topics is to post the article on a newspaper website, and then comply with government orders to take it down. By the time the article is removed, people will have read it negating the point of the censorship order.

However, in fear of closure, online service providers sometimes hire moderators known as big mama to monitor user-provided content. Nevertheless, some officially supported websites such as the Strong Country Forum hosted by the People's Daily are less restricted than others in discussing sensitive topics.


The Chinese Internet is awash with adware that spread and conceal themselves and pop-up ads. According to Sophos, 30% of malware samples detected by Sophos last year were written in China Many of this malware is of the Trojan horse variety, designed to steal game accounts such as QQ numbers for real-money trade Few malware authors had been arrested.

In addition, the browser search bar is being sought by various browser hijackers, and each one tries to protect itself from being uninstalled by a competitor. Several lawsuits were fired between their developers for "unfair competition", such as CNNIC, Baidu and Yahoo! China. Chinese antivirus producers don't identify them as malware, citing the difficulty of malware classification and the risk of law suits.

In July 2006, Qihoo, led by Zhou Hongyi, the former chief of the Yahoo! Assistant producer 3721, launched an antimalware software campaign. Several malicious software operators are being sued in September. However, Qihoo is also sued by Yahoo! China for defamation, as Qihoo 's antivirus software 360safe identifies Yahoo! Assistant as malware.

The China Anti-Malware Alliance filed lawsuits against eBay China and Yahoo! China in September 2006 , and sued CNNIC in the next month The China Anti-Malware Alliance also complained to the Ministry of Information Industry (MII) about China Telecom's dialer software that directs users to certain sites and changes users' homepages automatically


See also

External links

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