Internet usage in China saw a dramatic surge in 2008, according to figures from the official China Internet Network Information Center, with the total number of online citizens growing to approximately 300 million
. This represents a 42 percent increase in China's Internet population year over year and is nearly equal to the population of the United States.
In terms of penetration however the country still has a long way to go, even if it exceeds the world's average, with 22.6 percent of its population online. By comparison, around 73 percent of those who live in the United States use the web. Equally interesting is the fact that the number of Chinese surfing from cell phones more than doubled in 2008, reaching 117.6 million people – a potential gold mine for Apple which has been trying to land a deal in the country for some time. On the downside, with more citizens racing online, the country is pushing for increasingly sophisticated tools to censor Internet access and monitor public opinion.