China now has 450 million people online, a number nearly 50% greater than the population of the US. The Xinhua news agency reports that Wang Chen, head of China’s State Council Information Office, released figures that show a 20.3% increase in the numbers of Chinese online from November 2009 to last month. The total represents 33.9% of the total population in the People’s Republic.
Wang expressed concerns about hacking, viruses, and the pornography spread on the Internet.
The news raises the question of why China’s large Internet companies do not have higher revenue. Baidu (NASDAQ: BIDU), by far the largest search engine in the country, had only $337 million in revenue in the third quarter of 2010. That is dwarfed by Google’s (NASDAQ: GOOG) $7.4 billion.
One theory is that the Chinese do not use search engines. local portals, or e-commerce sites as much as people do in Western nations because the central government tracks online activity carefully. That represents a threat to those who may perform actions online that the People’s Republic would consider illegal.
Douglas A. McIntyre