Number of internet users in China reaches 1.079 billion, empowering economic recovery
Published: Aug 29, 2023 12:24 AM
internet companies Photo:VCG

internet companies Photo:VCG

The total number of internet users in China has reached 1.079 billion, with internet usage increasing to 76 percent, according to a new report released on Monday. Observers said China's digital infrastructure, especially generative artificial intelligence (AI), is greatly empowering the country's economic and social development.

The number of internet users as of June 2023 saw an increase of 11.09 million compared to December 2022, according to the Report on China's Internet Development by the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) on Monday. Also, a total of 2.937 million 5G base stations have been constructed and put into use.

The report showed almost all Chinese internet users are video users, with the number of network video users reaching 1.044 billion, an increase of 13.8 million from December 2022. 

About 82 percent of net users are purchasing online, with the number reaching 884 million, an increase of 38.8 million from December 2022, according to the report.

Observers said the fact that internet usage in China has increased to 76 percent shows that the country's digital infrastructure has entered a phase of rapid development and is likely to continue growing at a fast pace. Some mentioned that promoting internet usage in China's rural villages could offer a new growth point. 

By organizing events such as the Village Basketball Association, counties in Southwest China's Guizhou Province are setting an example for Chinese rural areas about how to use China's mature infrastructure and social media networks to connect with the outside world, which can also generate huge economic benefits.

Mao Li, vice chairman of the China Internet Association, believes that against the backdrop of gradual recovery in the first half of the year, the digital economy has become an important engine for stable growth.

The report said that since the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, Chinese internet companies such as online retailers, ride-hailing services, and online travel firms, have seized the favorable market conditions and consolidated strong development momentum.

As of June, the user base for online shopping, ride-hailing services, and online travel bookings in China increased by over 30 million people, compared to the data for December 2022. 

In the first half of the year, the national online retail sales reached 7.16 trillion yuan, up 13.1 percent year-on-year, with rural online retail sales amounting to 1.12 trillion yuan, the CNNIC report said. 

The report said that as of June, China has built and put into operation of a total of 2.937 million 5G base stations, with 676 million 5G mobile phone users. 5G applications have also been integrated into 60 major economic sectors, accelerating their expansion into key areas such as healthcare, education, and transport. 

Zhang Hui, vice dean of the School of Economics at Peking University, told the Global Times the rapid construction of digital infrastructure in the first half of 2023 helps to accelerate economic and social development.

In addition, the CNNIC report said the accumulated mobile internet traffic has reached 142.3 billion GB, up 14.6 percent year-on-year. Mobile internet applications have flourished, with a monitored total of 2.6 million active apps in the domestic market, further covering the daily learning, work, and lifestyle needs of internet users.

Wang Changqing, a research fellow from the CNNIC, noted that generative AI techniques have been flourishing in the first half of 2023, which has injected increased vitality into the digital industrial environment. Along with the push to develop generative AI products, China has also rushed to integrate AI with the manufacturing industry, with more than 2,500 digital and intelligent workshops and factories built across the country so far, Wang noted.