According to a report, mobile phones have become the most popular means of connecting people to the Internet in China.
This is the first time that desktop computers have lost their dominance among the 538 million Internet users in China.
According to the China Internet Network Information Center (CINIC) report, 50 percent of the new Internet users in the country this year are from rural areas.
Experts say that the main reason for the increase in the number of Internet users is the decrease in prices of smartphones.
“Mobile phones are a cheap and convenient way to access the Internet for China’s vast rural areas and mobile population,” said a report by state-affiliated institute CINIC.
Decreasing price, increasing range
The number of people using the Internet on mobile phones in China has now reached 388 million, an increase of about 10 percent in the past six months.
The report says: “Mobile phone prices are continually falling. Since the smartphone became available for less than 1,000 yuan (about 8,500 rupees), the reach of its users has increased, and people who use regular phones have also been encouraged to use the Internet on mobile.
Compared to the end of last year, the number of Internet users in China increased by 5 percent, many of whom are very active in the online world.
Bill Dutton, Professor of Internet Studies at Oxford University, told the BBC that a similar trend was being seen in other parts of the world.
He says: “We are moving towards the next generation of consumers. These people may have three to four devices at home, so computer-related activities continue to be a part of their lives wherever they live.”
Furthermore, he claims that the growing trend of mobile phones in rural areas is now more of a need than a want.
“Many people are connecting to the Internet through mobile phones, which would not have been possible without it.”
‘Breath’ in the Great Firewall
Nearly half of China’s Internet users use macroblogging websites such as Sina Weibo. Sina Weibo is like Twitter. It cannot be used due to the Twitter ban in China.
In view of the growing popularity of such websites, the government strictly instructs all consumers to use their real names only on these websites.
The history of Internet use in China has been tumultuous. Human rights organizations often accuse the Chinese government of blocking a large amount of online content related to its citizens; the system that carries out this work is called the ‘Great Firewall of China’.
The leaders of the ruling Communist Party are also expected to pay attention to the CINIC report.
Mobile phones are an ideal vehicle for microblogging, which has become an unofficial platform for reporting on riots, scandals and crises.
While the Great Firewall strictly monitors the Internet through web browsers, special programs or applications designed for mobile phones often manage to bypass China’s Internet-related controls.