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513 million Internet users in China

Official data posted online shows that more than 500 million people in China now use the Internet. According to the report, almost half of them use weibos, microblogs similar by design to Twitter which can bypass the countries powerful censors.

These weibos are growing in popularity as people can get a platform to air their views and even arrange protests in the country, challenging the government. Around 56 million Chinese people used the internet for the first time in 2011, which is close to the total population in Great Britain.

China have already more people using the Internet than anywhere else in the world, even America.

AFP news say “The rise in the number of people using the weibos was particularly dramatic, the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) figures show, jumping to 250 million from just 63 million at the end of 2010.

“Chinese authorities are more and more concerned about the Internet because it’s such a decentralised medium and so difficult to control,” said David Bandurski, a Hong Kong-based researcher at the China Media Project.

“Since 2005, the whole focus of control of information has shifted from traditional media to the Internet.”

China regularly blocks web content it deems politically sensitive in a vast censorship system dubbed the “Great Firewall of China” and is hugely concerned about the power of the Internet to influence public opinion.

But weibo users have been able to get around the controls by re-posting information and images as fast as the authorities can take them down.”

Kitguru says: The Chinese ruling authorities aren’t taking it all with a pinch of salt however, and some of the high profile weibo users with a big following have apparently received written warnings.

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