China struggles with growing Internet population

Test your website on the "Great Firewall of China"
I’m personally tracking China’s Internet development as part of my dissertation work on the regulatory forces of online space.

It’s only a matter of time… Wall Street Journal highlights a China Internet Network Information Center report that China’s total number of Internet users rose 53% to 210 million at the end of 2007 up from 137 million at the end of 2006 and 162 million in June 2007. More importantly, this means that China is now just five million users shy of surpassing the United States as the world’s largest Internet market (via TechCrunch).

Meanwhile, supporting this growth, Reuters reports that China’s online game market grew by 23% to 40.17 million in terms of users last year. As Raph Koster counterpoints, the numbers may fall as China goes on a crack down.

“Although China’s online-gaming industry had been hot in recent years, online games are regarded by many as a sort of spiritual opium, and the whole industry is marginalized by mainstream society,” Thursday’s China Daily quoted Kou Xiaowei, a senior official with the General Administration of Press and Publication, as saying.

Despite the Chinese government’s stance, the lack of a proper rating system in China and easy access to pirated games makes such regulation difficult.

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