China tops half billion Internet users

Miicroblogging and online group buying grew more than 200 percent last year leading a huge increase in China's online population.

Microblogging and online buying through coupon sites each grew more than 200 percent in China last year, making these online activities the fastest growing in the country, according to an official report.

The report on internet development in China in 2011 was released on Monday by the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC). It found that the country's web users recently exceeded 500 million, while microblogging grew 296 percent, from 63.1 million to 249.9 million, between 2010 and 2011. Similarly, online group buying using sites similar to the Groupon saw the number of users jump from 18.75 million to 64.65 million, a spike of 244.8 percent.

The CNNIC said that the microblogging scene in particular saw "explosive" growth in the first half of last year, although it slowed in the latter half. It added that the future of microblogs in China will depend on three factors: namely the competition between the different platforms, monetization of the sites and implementation of the real-name rule as ordered by the government.

For more on this story, read China sees huge growth in internet use on ZDNet Asia.