Number grows to 298 million

The number of Internet users in China rose 42% in 2008 to 298 million, with its 22.6% penetration beating the 21.9% world average for the first time, a government-sanctioned research group said in a report.

Around 91% of China’s webizens had broadband connections, the China Internet Network Information Center said, quoted by the Xinhua news agency.

China overtook the U.S. for the number of Internet users in June, to become the world’s leader. But U.S. online penetration is more than 70% against China’s 22.6%, leaving plenty of room for expansion in a population of 1.3 billion.

The number of people using cell phones to surf the Internet doubled to 117 million, a reflection of cheaper costs and an expanded wireless network.

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