Chinese internet users top 800 million in June

More than 98 percent of internet users in China have smartphones, according to a state-backed report.

China, the world's most populated economy, has seen internet users surpass the 800-million mark for the first time this year, assisted by its buoyant internet-based businesses, from mobile payments to smartphone-enabled bike sharing and food delivery.

The total number of internet users in China reached 802 million as of the end of June this year, up 30 million during the six-month period, according to a report by state-backed agency China Internet Network Information Centre (CNNIC) last week.

Smartphones, owned by 98.3 percent of internet users in China, are currently the dominant tool for Chinese people to access to internet, said the report. This is thanks to the continuous optimisation and upgrading of internet infrastructure construction in the country, where network coverage and speed surged notably while costs continued to decline, it said.

In spite of 4.9 percent decline in smartphone shipments last year, China remains the world's largest smartphone market, where mobile shipments reached 444.3 million in 2017, IDC said in February.

But the latest internet penetration rate of 57.7 percent, considering China's 1.4 billion population, remains relatively low, with some two people in five still not having an opportunity to access the internet there.

Online shopping and mobile payments are two of the most commonly internet-based activities in China, both of which have been adopted by 71 percent of internet users. About one in three Chinese internet users used smartphones to book a car ride or rent a shared bike. More than one user in five also used the internet to manage their finances, up from 16.7 percent by the end of 2017.

Short video was one of the fastest growing online businesses in China in the first half of 2018, with about three in four Chinese internet users watching short videos on various apps on smartphones, the report added.

Leading short video platform Douyin, seen as the Chinese version of Music.ly, reported in July that its monthly active users exceeded 500 million, one month after it claimed that its daily active users reached 150 million.

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