The Chinese government shut down more than 1-million websites last year, according to The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), a state-run think tank.

Specifically, 1.3-million websites were blocked, thereby reducing the number of available websites by 41 percent from the year-earlier period.

Beijing officials are very wary of what is available online, as illustrated by their crackdown on pornography two years ago.

Nonetheless, CASS indicated that China still possesses q high level of freedom of online speech.

According to a report on BBC, Liu Ruisheng, a researcher at CASS, noted that while the number of open websites is declining, the number of web pages has climbed to 60 billion in 2010 - a 79 percent surge from the prior year.

This means our content is getting stronger, while our supervision is getting [stricter] and more regulated, he said.

Popular social media networks like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter remain prohibited in China.

Separately, CASS stated that Chinese has now become the second most widely used language on the Internet, behind only English.

Liu, the CASS researcher, told a conference in Beijing that in 2000 there were just over 22-million Internet users in China; but by 2010, the Internet penetration rate reached 34 percent – thus closing the once-wide gap between China and the developed countries.

Also, there are now almost 900-million mobile phone users in China.