Chinese Rural Internet Has Huge Potentiality for Development and Its Annual Growth Speed Exceeds That of the City by Three Times

On March 28, 2008, the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) released the “Survey Report on Internet Development in Rural China”, one of the 2008 serial reports on the development of the Internet in China. The Data by December 31, 2007, the number of rural netizens in China was 52.62 million, and its annual growth rate reached 127.7%, far higher than that of urban netizens, which was 38.2%. It benefit from Chinese economy development and the primary support policy of government for rural Internet development. The rural Internet has demonstrated good potentiality for development.In survey report, resulting from in-depth survey of the rural Internet in China, which has provided a reference for the government formulation of rural informatization developing strategies and construction of a socialist new countryside. It is following CNNIC launch of the “Survey Report on Internet Development in Rural China 2007”.The rural Internet has huge potentiality for development but its gap with the urban Internet is still greataccording to report that continuous economic growth and under the government primary support, the rural Internet in China has huge potentiality for development.The rural Internet is undergoing a period of rapid development. It development speed has surpassed that in the city, which is conducive to the continuous growth of the Internet in China. The survey reflects 40% of the newly added 73 million netizens in 2007, which 29.17 million came from the countryside. Currently the total number of rural netizens in China has reached 52.62 million. The annual growth rate reached 127.7%, far higher than that of the urban netizens, which was 38.2%.However, the difference between the countryside and the city in China is still big. Internet penetration among urban residents is 27.3%, while that of rural residents is only 7.1%. Also the netizens in China are mainly urban residents, and the major factor affecting the development of the rural Internet is the educational level and income of rural residents. Among rural residents who are not netizens, 53.3% of them do not use the Internet because they do not understand computers or Internet and 23.1% because they have no equipment for Internet access.With respect to the depth of Internet application, rural netizens are shallower than their urban counterparts and their entertainment orientation is more obvious. Currently, the weekly Internet access time of rural netizens is 12.3 hours on average, which are 5.6 hours less than that of urban netizens. Rural netizens’ access rate of online news and search engines is 61.4% and 56.6% respectively, 15% and 18% lower than that of urban netizens. Meanwhile, most rural netizens only take the Internet as their chatting tool and recreation tool. Respectively 86.4% and 76% of the rural netizens use the online music and online film and TV functions.The report has discovered that while the number of rural netizens is rapidly growing, the information resources in townships are still very deficient. Currently, among 34 thousand townships in China, less than 10% of the township governments have independent government domain names. The informatization construction of the governments at the township level is still at the beginning stage.Aware of the major impact of the information gap upon the dual structure of urban and rural areas, the governments, together with promotion of many parties, have taken lead to provide primary support for telecommunications and the Internet in the countryside and supply powerful guarantee for the development of the rural Internet. For example, the large-scale township informatization popularization public welfare project named “A Website for Every Township”, started in June 2007, has been receiving warm response from local governments. At present, a quarter of the provincial administrative regions across the country have signed to join this project.The main Internet access channel in the countryside is Internet cafeDue to their limited income, most rural netizens do not have family Internet access equipment, which causes Internet cafe to be the main channel to access the Internet. The survey shows that the proportion of rural netizens who access the Internet in Internet cafe has reached 48.5%, close to a half. That is, among 52.62 million rural netizens, Internet cafe netizens have reached 25.52 million. Among rural netizens, most are young male residents with low income and a middle school degree.It is noteworthy that while Internet cafe serves as an important Internet access channel for rural netizens, they are also plagued with such serious problems as operation against regulations and rural middle school and primary school students abuse of Internet cafe. The proportion of underage rural netizens using Internet cafe has reached as high as 45.4%. This phenomenon is more common than that in the city, where the proportion of underage access to the Internet in Internet cafe is only 26.1% in the same period. Among the underage netizens in the countryside, 87.6% are students.In view of the current situation of the rural Internet development, CNNIC has pointed out in the survey report such pertinent suggestions as strengthening rural Internet cafe management in holiday and carrying out Internet access training for rural residents.This news release was sourced from the CNNIC website at www.cnnic.net.cn/html/Dir/2008/04/01/5038.htm.

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