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25 Scintillating Facts About the Internet in China

One of the biggest economic stories in recent years has been the breathtaking growth of China. Currently, its Internet sector is one of the fastest-growing sectors in the overall economy. Clearly, this is a promising hunting ground for opportunistic investors.

To help our readers better understand the Chinese Internet landscape, I have compiled 25 facts that should highlight some investing ideas for further research. In compiling the list, I found the social media agency We Are Social’s Guide to Social, Digital and Mobile in China to be extremely valuable.

1. China’s Internet penetration is currently at 42%. In other words, the country has roughly 570 million Internet users. For comparison, the population of the entire United States is 315 million people.

2. 80% of Chinese Internet users are between the ages of 10 and 40. (Source: We Are Social’s Guide to Social, Digital and Mobile in China)

3. There are 420 million mobile Internet users in China. 62% of China’s mobile Internet users are younger than 30. (Source: We Are Social’s Guide to Social, Digital and Mobile in China)

4. The average monthly value of mobile transactions is $800 million -- that’s $300 every second. (Source: We Are Social’s Guide to Social, Digital and Mobile in China)

5. China now requires all Internet users to register their names with Internet service providers.

6. Currently, China’s fastest-growing online activities (year-over-year) are:

(Source: We Are Social’s Guide to Social, Digital and Mobile in China)

7. The top searches in 2012 on Baidu (NASDAQ: BIDU  ) -- China’s leading provider of Internet search services -- were:

(Source: We Are Social’s Guide to Social, Digital and Mobile in China)

8. China’s online games market is expected to exceed $8 billion in 2014. (Source: Pearl Research)

Social Networks

9. There are more than 600 million users of social networks in China.

10. 91% of China’s netizens use social media compared with just 67% of their U.S. counterparts.

11. Of all of China’s social networks, Tencent’s QZone is the country’s favorite with 44% market share. Sina (NASDAQ: SINA  ) and Renren (NYSE: RENN  ) are second and third with about 19% each. Tencent’s Weibo is fourth with 8%. (Source: We Are Social’s Guide to Social, Digital and Mobile in China)

12. As of November 2012, there were 784 million active accounts each month on Tencent's QQ instant messaging platform. (Source: We Are Social’s Guide to Social, Digital and Mobile in China)

13. There are more than 70 million users of social networks for professionals in China. In 2012 the number of people using professional social networks increased by 250%. (Source: We Are Social’s Guide to Social, Digital and Mobile in China)

14. Tianji is China’s No. 1 professional network with 12.3 million registered users. Meanwhile, LinkedIn is No. 7 with 2.8 million registered users -- China is LinkedIn's 7th most populous country. (Source: We Are Social’s Guide to Social, Digital and Mobile in China)


15. The microblogging market (or Weibo) in China was worth approximately $79 million in 2012. More than 50% of Weibo users search e-commerce sites after noticing relevant information on Weibo. (Source: We Are Social’s Guide to Social, Digital and Mobile in China)

16. Sina Weibo desktop users in China spend 20% more time on the Internet than Twitter users do in the USA; Sina Weibo mobile users spend 35% more time online than Twitter users in the USA. (Source: We Are Social’s Guide to Social, Digital and Mobile in China)


17. Tencent was named as Fast Company’s 8th Most Innovative Company this year. It’s China’s largest publicly traded Internet company, and its mobile messaging app -- WeChat -- now has 300 million users.

18. China makes more than 50% of the world’s mobile phones, computers, and TVs.


19. China now has more than 242 million online shoppers. That is: (a) 75 million more than the U.S. (b) 2 times the number in Japan (c) 6 times the number in the United Kingdom.

Source: We Are Social’s Guide to Social, Digital and Mobile in China

20. Below is a look at e-commerce sales in China from 2011 to 2016:

Data compiled by

21. By 2015, e-commerce will represent 7.4% of China’s total retail market.

22. Below are China’s Top 10 E-commerce sites, which account for more than 65% of the market:

Data compiled by

23. 59% of Chinese smartphones users have used their phones to shop online. (Source: We Are Social’s Guide to Social, Digital and Mobile in China).

Online video

24. China’s leading Internet television company, Youku Tudou (UNKNOWN: YOKU.DL  ) , could reach 310 million unique visitors each week, while generating 1.6 billion hours of video each month.

25. The Chinese online video market should grow to $1 billion in 2013. In 2012, 130 million people watched video on their mobile phones in China. (Source: We Are Social’s Guide to Social, Digital and Mobile in China).

Editor's note: Fact No. 12 has been corrected to show that the number in question is "active accounts" not "people," as appeared in an earlier version of this article. The Fool regrets the error.

Read/Post Comments (11) | Recommend This Article (49)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2013, at 3:32 PM, oberta wrote:

    I miss in this survey a company which offers business-to-business integrated internet services for small and medium enterprises sales networks in the People Republic of China.

    This company "ChinaNet Online Holdings, Inc (Nasdaq,GM (CNET) has a srong balance sheet and increasing net Income in the last quatres of 2012.

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2013, at 7:34 PM, fmacfee wrote:

    I just spent $1900 for supernova. Why do you insist on continuing to sell me additional services and flooding my email with teasers?

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2013, at 10:52 PM, captam wrote:

    Thank you for that informative article which, if read fully, should be a lesson and wake-up call for American politicians and those others who keep slagging China off for being a "mean Commie dictatorship which suppresses its own people".

    Nothing could be further from the truth.

    The CHINESE people generally ( and except for a few 'nutters') DO NOT WANT TO OVERTHROW THEIR GOVERNMENT.

    They are content with a Government which provides an ever increasing standard of living and which, on balance, gives them far more than Western style democracies are doing for their young people.

    There are individual failings and issues, which of course which have to be dealt with but the Chinese leadership faces up to these and progressively moves to put right their deficiencies. Very few Western style democratic Governments in the West do this. Their political parties won't even own up to their failures and continue to dig themselves into a even deeper hole.

    Hats off to China!

  • Report this Comment On March 24, 2013, at 2:55 AM, ssx1 wrote:

    My Chinese roommate begs to differ captam. He says the majority do not supsupport of would prefer a democratic government, but are resigned to waiting a miracle in reform or collapse from corruption bbecause they feel there is really nothing they can do about the government. Seems like a pretty hopeless attitude.

    I'm curious, what does the Chinese government give far more than Western govs? What is the gov responsible for giving people? Where I sit the gov is responsible for protecting citizens freedoms & rights, ensuring a smooth and fair functioning of society and the economy, and promoting its interests abroad. Not giving things to certain groups of people, especially at the expense of others. Besides, the rising standard of living you cite is a benefit of economic progress resulting from the government geting out of the way since the 80's & 90's, not anything it is actively giving people. This just proves that free markets and hybrid/regulated capitalism works beautifully. Lastly, Western governments routinely challenge themselves, one branch will rule that another is wrong anx fix it, and arare touting its wrongs. Its part of the multi or two prty, multiple independent branches government. However, I dont remember the Communist party in China ever apologizing for, denouncing, or admitting wrongdoing for Teinnemin(sp) Square. In fact, the whole incident is censored, info unavailable, and the gov pretends like it never happened.

    Hats back on, sorry China.

  • Report this Comment On March 24, 2013, at 11:29 PM, observerbob2013 wrote:

    The fact is that China has transitioned from a dirt-poor third world country trying to recover from a devastating war followed by civil war into the second strongest world economy and in many areas the strongest in only six decades.

    One can argue ones beliefs in the forms of government but any economic comparison of 'democratic" India and 'communist' China will shows economic reality.

    There is no doubt that there are unhappy people in China but this is true of any country or society and does not show any immediate liklihood of dramatic change.

    In view of the fact that this is an economic rather than a political forum I feel we would be better to concentrate on the very interesting review of the stunning size and growth of the Chinese economy shown in this article and look at the opportunities it offers

  • Report this Comment On March 27, 2013, at 1:37 PM, aeroguy11 wrote:

    Perhaps I don't understand what QQ messaging is but according to the stats sited in the article, how can there be more QQ users than Internet users?

  • Report this Comment On March 27, 2013, at 1:39 PM, aeroguy11 wrote:

    784 million QQ users vs 570 million Internet users.

  • Report this Comment On March 29, 2013, at 12:04 PM, 650nm wrote:


    Your Chinese roommate, while likely well-educated and intelligent, also likely suffers from ignorance (willful) about what democracy in China would mean.

    Being that he is educated in China, he should also be keenly aware that Chinese history is a long string of civil wars. Democracy would not fix this. It would only encourage more fracturing and more 勾心斗角 and that would bring the country to its knees.

    There is tremendous corruption in China, but they have a system there of democracy -within- their one-party system. There is voting at the village, city, and provincial levels. Chinese culture developed over millenia of all-or-nothing, single-party rule. Anyone who thinks the US version democracy with toxic bipartisanship, poisoned by rampant litigation and lobbying is somehow better should really get to know other countries (not just China) better.

  • Report this Comment On April 02, 2013, at 9:56 PM, glenrgraham2 wrote:

    The issue for the intelligent investor is how safe is my investment. In a country that honors the rule of law and respects private property, there is a greater feeling of confidence in the safety of investments. China does not instill confidence. If you lack reliable information --- which may be the result of limitations on freedom of speech and our even possible inability to understand the language and/or culture, then that is another concern. Who is the president of China, are you intimately familiar with all of the down side or risks associated with foreign investments? Is extreme "volatility" a problem? What protection does a foreign investor have in investing money in a foreign economy? Are there safer investments which while less volatile, might also be solid long term investments. What are your goals - to invest long term or to buy and sell and buy and sell, . .

  • Report this Comment On April 04, 2013, at 9:35 AM, shenlan453 wrote:

    I want to give some Explanation:

    784 million QQ users is monthly activity users and some of the users have two or three account included.

    I'm from china.I read the article and most of the statistics are true.I feel lucky that i'm born in China that i can see the changing everyday around and there are more opportunities in this changing country if you are clever.Sorry for my bad english...

  • Report this Comment On April 06, 2013, at 8:44 AM, vannrox wrote:

    I am an American. I live in China as a resident. I have lived here for quite some time. There is quite a bit of nonsense floating about in the western media about China. And, I see some of it mouthed in the comments here.

    (1) Chinese people love China. They aren't happy with their government, but they have not plans to over throw it.

    (2) Chinese people DO NOT like the way the USA is run and governed. They think it is terribly inefficient, slow and terribly corrupt. There is no way that they would ever want to copy or embrace the foolish ways that Americans have grown accustomed to.

    (3) Chinese people are hard working nerds. They go to school and study and study at least 12 to 14 hours a day since they can walk. In fact, they can't even enter college unless thy can read, write and speak English at a 12th grade level!

    (4) They realize that time is short, and that things change. So they are using this period of prosperity to prepare for the long term. They are working hard, and building up global relationships.

    (5) Taxes are so low that they are practically non-existent. No excise tax, no withholding tax. No unemployment tax, no social security tax (16%, not the 8% indicated by the "employee contribution"). Because of this, people can save money. The saved money can then be used for education for the kids, and to start new businesses. Unlike the USA, where few people can save comfortably.

    The bottom line is this. To believe that any Chinese would want to leave the fine food food, economic advantages, and rising superpower status for a life in the USA police state is SHEN-XING-BING! (crazy)

    THe only people who feel this way are those whom left China ten or twenty years ago and think that life in China has been stagnant. It hasn't.

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