China moves past U.S. in Web users


SHANGHAI -- China has surpassed the U.S. to become the world's largest Internet market by number of users, a research firm said.

The estimate by Beijing-based BDA was based on data from China Internet Network Information Center that indicated that the country's Internet users totaled 210 million at year's end 2007.

Nielsen//NetRatings put the U.S. Web population at 216 million for the same period, BDA said.

"Based on these sources and the assumption that these markets have continued to grow in 2008-to-date at the same rates that they grew in 2007, we can conclude that China has by now comfortably surpassed the U.S. as the world's largest Internet population," analyst Bin Liu said last weekThursday in a statement.

BDA added that it expects e-commerce to become the next boom sector in China as businesses take advantage of the mass market of consumers already online.