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Asia and Pacific Region Forum

China to surpass US in Internet usage

 2:43 am on Jan 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

Chinese Internet Users Up to 210 Million [ap.google.com]

The Chinese government said Friday its Internet population has soared to 210 million people, putting it on track to surpass the U.S. online community this year to become the world's largest.

The official China Internet Network Information Center, also known as CNNIC, said the online population grew 53 percent, from 137 million reported at the same time last year. According to the government's Xinhua News Agency, China is only 5 million behind the United States online, a figure consistent with some American estimates.


Mr Bo Jangles

 9:16 am on Jan 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

If only we could sell to them
- but they don't speak English, they don't read English
- really, really inconsiderate *_*


 9:54 am on Jan 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

What is more important is the ONLINE SPEND. We have a huge population in India that is getting online also but purchasing on the net is still restricted to CD ROM's, CD's and Books mostly..The market IMO will take atleast 5 years to develop so right now internet entrepreneurs have to do all the hard work dveloping and sustaining business models on the net.


 1:12 pm on Jan 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

luckily for them all the stupid business models went up in smoke with the .com bust.


 4:08 am on Jan 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

they don't speak English, they don't read English

You probably don't speak Chinese too. How about learning to speak chinese languages? :)

[edited by: Habtom at 4:17 am (utc) on Jan. 20, 2008]


 2:44 pm on Jan 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

Habtom Ni Hao,

I've started to learn. ;-)

Sadly, most people who speak English as a second language speak it far better than I do their language.

Learning even a few phrases of someone's langauge goes a long way to improve relationships - even if one is pretty awful at speaking another language (or even have just "gist" translated the language), at least one knows they are trying.

While we are on the topic. Which dialect of Chinese is the most well known in China? Also, can many Chinese people read Chinese in the English ASCII character set?

Zai jian,



 5:15 pm on Jan 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

God help the world when China awakes - Napoleon


 12:26 am on Jan 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

Which dialect of Chinese is the most well known in China?

Standard Chinese or Mandarin is the most prevalent but there are plenty of dialects.

Also, can many Chinese people read Chinese in the English ASCII character set?

China has about a 90% literacy rate. However, I haven't seen any figures on how much educational training goes into the English character set. Maybe some of our members from China could enlighten us.


 2:15 am on Jan 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

Hi all,

The Chinese population while having an incredibly strong (For an undeveloped nation with huge poverty issues) literacy rate of around 90% doesn't really speak much English. Students who attend school generally need to have classes in English. Unfortunatly thats only happened in the last few years. Before that English was generally only taught in highschools (which are not required attendance or paid for by the gov).

Generally the level of English in China is pretty low with incredibly low standards of grammar, listening, and speaking, and thats for current high school and college graduates.

The problem in China is that the teachers also had sub par classes from teachers that had absolutely no English skills. Current teachers are a bit better, and this trend will continue till eventually the Chinese population will be as skilled in English as most Europeans.

Mandarin is the primary language in China, and is pretty much the only written one. That 90% literacy rate is in Mandarin Chinese. Characters generally stay the same no matter the dialect which helps with literacy. Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore all use traditional character sets even though they speak standard mandarin (and English). Mainland China changed to simplified characters in an attempt to unify the country. Basically every city has its own dialect which is pretty much as different as English and French, IE:


Shanghai Language


Now onto the business side.. Chinese look at websites differently. They want busy flashing annoying #*$! everywhere for god knows what reason. Maybe its more they don't mind having all this stuff on the site so who cares, put more annoying flash ads on the site. So basically get a case study and some good Chinese graphics designers together when entering the Chinese market.

User studies in China show significant differences in how Chinese look at websites, so study up on it.

Keyword research is severely crippled in China.. Basically you have two choices:
1. Spend a bunch of money on a product from Hong Kong
2. Do the keyword research in English then translate to Chinese

There are a lot of people buying in China. I know quite a few people that purchase stuff online, and they're normal Chinese. Even better, the population of women surfers and buyers is very large.

Chinese love expensive luxury stuff. I had a friend who upped the price of his luxury Sofas from 10k USD to 12k USD purely to make it the most expensive in town. This brought a 20% increase in sales. In beijing having a car is almost more important then an apartment or house. The reasoning is you gain "face [en.wikipedia.org]" by having expensive stuff other people can see. In Shanghai even beggars have cell phones.

The percentage of Chinese currently online is only going to increase by many millions every year. In a few years the market is going to mature into something similar to the boom seen in the states, only 10x as big. Get in while you can.

SEO in China is at a fairly low standard. Competition is sparse so its a good time to get into the market.

John, An internet marketer and ex-English teacher currently located in Shanghai


 8:33 pm on Jan 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

its own dialect which is pretty much as different as English and French

My Mandarin-speaking linguist friend explained it that different the Chinese dialects have somewhat more variation (in their verbal form) than the Romance languages, descended from Latin (Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Romanian).


 1:12 am on Jan 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

Maybe, my Chinese girlfriend disagrees (English, French, Mandarin, and Shanghainese speaker). Luckily most local languages aren't important, there are very few online resources in each local language. The largest exception to this would be Cantonese which is still the language of choice in Hong Kong. In fact many Mainland Chinese end up speaking English instead of Mandarin while in Hong Kong.


 3:13 am on Jan 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

Good comments, John! I trust you learned a lot in China!
Here, something i want to revise for you:
Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore all use traditional character sets even though they speak standard mandarin (and English).

Maybe it's a surprise to you: people in Singapore use simplified Chinese!


 5:52 am on Feb 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

Chinese government statistics have to be taken with a grain of salt, it's general knowledge (t us foreigners living here) that the government will produce any statistics that make Chinese people feel happy, and leave out the bad stuff. I would really like to see where they get the stats...but of course this info is top secret to the general population.

On the other hand I have Chinese friends making a killing selling stuff on the internet to the very small, but super rich consumers mainly in first tier cities (Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, etc). Have heard a little of consumers buying from second tier cities (Wuhan, Qingdao, Dalian, etc) but not much because wealth is more centralized in these places. And the rest of the country (4/5 of the population) couldn't afford $0.5/hour internet access.

try to be honest

 8:21 am on Feb 11, 2008 (gmt 0)

Obviously,these are wrong statistics. I don't know how do people get them. In practice,China has up to 130 million Internet users now.And even this one is not accurate. As the number of more than 200 million ,it's true only when it is the year 0f 2014 .
We should get to know that most of Chinese users are surfing on the Internet at pubs,in other words,Internet cafes. Many have been calculated more than one time.So do many other countries.
people can easily get the real number they want in a simple way. Firstly,thinking about the percentages of workers,farmers,students,businessmen,officers ...;Secondly,learning how often they use Internet.Third,it is should be acquired that the number of users is not suitable to that how many devices there are.
Many wrong informations are created by many countries everyday.What we could do is learning to identify them.
I'm sorry for my low -leveled English.. Maybe it is my own wrong .Maybe.Thank you.

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