China boasts the world's fastest-growing percentage of Internet users who access the Web via smartphones or other wirelessly connected devices, new figures released Tuesday suggest.
The country of 1.35 billion people now has 591 million Internet users, 464 million of whom are mobile Internet users, according to the China Internet Network Information Centre (CINIC).
The research group says mobile Internet use grew by 20 percent from June 2012 to June 2013, while overall Internet use grew by 10 percent. Internet users represent 44 percent of China's total population.
In 2009, when it first began collecting this usage data, CINIC estimated that just 338 million people on the mainland used the Internet and 320 million of them did so via a mobile device.
The emerging boom is reflected in recent valuations of tech startups. Earlier this week, Baidu.com Inc. (ADR) (NASDAQ:BIDU), China's most popular search engine, announced it will pay $1.9 billion to acquire smartphone app maker 91 Wireless Websoft.
The wireless boom is occurring despite the communist government's curbing of material it considers subversive, inflammatory or obscene. Instead, the government encourages only business- and education-related content and services.