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Internet Users in China Surpasses 500 Million

The Los Angeles Times reported that more than 500 million Chinese citizens used the web last year, according to a tech-industry firm, changing the way people process and discuss information and news in the communist-controlled state.

In December, the number of internet users grew 12 percent to 513 million, compared with the same period in 2010, according to the China Internet Network Information Center. The explosive growth has benefited several Chinese Internet companies such as search engine Baidu Inc., news site Sina Corp. and gaming and messaging service firm Tencent Holdings.

According to the article, last year was also a time that experienced the explosive growth of Chinese micro-blogs, which were often used for mediums of public opinion that frequently went against the news reported by the state. Nearly 250 million people in China used micro-blogs last year, according to the China Internet Network Information Center.

The growth of people using micro-blogs has alarmed the central government. In October, the Chinese government promised to gain more control of the Internet, and in December, cities created new laws requiring people to register their micro blog accounts with their real names, "making it more risky for individuals to challenge authorities," the Los Angeles Times reported.

- Melanie Saxe

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Jan 16, 2012