As WeChat gains popularity, SMS is dying in China, government figures indicate. Courtesy

Chinese cell-phone users appear to be switching from Short Message Service and its variants (collectively SMS) to WeChat and other Twitter-like services, figures from China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology indicate.

The ministry reported the number of SMS messages was down 18.4 percent January to May this year from the comparable period last year, even as 27.25 million more people subscribed to cell-phone services, according to TechInAsia. China now has 1.26 billion registered cell-phone users.

The ministry said mobile Internet traffic is up 52 percent from last year and is triple the 2011 volume. WeChat's active user base numbers 396 million, figures from Tencent indicate. In addition to WeChat, Line, Laiwang and Yixin also are siphoning off SMS users.

WeChat is looking to sign up overseas subscribers, reports. The company has rolled out virtual stickers to emulate Line, which has amassed 300 million subscribers in 231 nations. WeChat has 100 million overseas subscribers.