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China has world's largest Internet-using population

China has now surpassed the US as the country with the largest number of Internet users

China's state media has announced that the country has surpassed the United States to become the world's largest Internet-using population.

According to a Reuters report, the number of Internet users in China reached 221 million at the end of February.

At the end of last year, China's Internet Network Information Centre said that number stood at 210 million - 5 million fewer than the US.

"Despite a rapidly increasing Internet population, the proportion of Internet users among the total population was still lower than the global average level," the Xinhua news agency said, quoting the Information Ministry.

The proportion was 16 per cent at the end of 2007, compared with 19.1 per cent for the world average.

Internet censorship is common in China, however, where the government employs an elaborate system of filters and tens of thousands of human monitors to survey surfing habits - surgically clipping sensitive content.

Pearl Research is forecasting that the market for online games in China - which grew more than 60 per cent in 2007 - will exceed USD 3 billion in 2010.