Entertainment tops Net users list

Most of the country's Internet users go online to chat or seek entertainment rather than look for jobs or conduct business.

According to a report released by China Internet Network Information (CNNIC) yesterday, China's Internet users totaled 162 million in the first six months of this year. The country reported 137 million users last year.

The rapid growth could be translated into almost 100 new users per minute in the past six months.

At this rate of increase, China is expected to overtake the United States, the world's leader, by the end of next year. The US had 211 million Internet users at the end of last month.

Although the number of China's Internet users has been on the rise since 1994, when first introduced to the country, the research showed most users were interested in chat rooms and entertainment, and not job searches, education, and e-banking.

About 75 percent read online news and used search engines for information.

More than 60 percent regarded online music and videos as an important source of entertainment.

Only 21 percent used e-banking services, and 3.9 percent booked tickets through the Internet.

Wang Enhai, an official with CNNIC, and an author of the report, said the phenomenon is due to China's Internet infancy and the fact most users were young people.

"China's Internet market is just emerging and there are still a lot of things to be done before a mature online business environment can be established," Wang said.

According to CNNIC, the number of China's Internet users under 24 years old was 58 million, about 35.8 percent of the country's total Internet population.

This segment of the population, comprising mostly students, spends a lot of time playing online games, listening to music and watching videos.

"We suggest the government is be more active in steering away youths from these activities," Wang said.

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