The number of internet users in China has been rising by leaps and bounds. Those online in the world's second-largest economy equal the entire population of Europe, with e-commerce the main driver of expansion.
The number of internet users in China - already the world's highest - reached 731 million people, the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) reported as it presented the latest figures for 2016.
It said total internet users rose by 6.2 percent from the end of December 2015 and equaled the entire population of Europe.
CNNIC pointed out that e-commerce had driven consumer demand across the Asian giant. The number of people who went online through cell phones reached 695 million last year.
The power of online shoppers
As of December 2016, the number of people in China using online payments reached 475 million, marking a 14-percent increase year on year.
Beijing is pushing its "Internet Plus" project, which aims to expand the role of online technology in the economy. On the other hand, the government has been barring citizens from accessing major websites, including Facebook and Google.
Nonetheless, online consumption has been contributing to GDP growth, with its role gradually increasing.
In one example of the growing power of China's online shoppers, consumers spent $17.8 billion (16.7 billion euros) in e-commerce giant Alibaba's biggest online shopping promotion on November 11 last year, more than twice the five-day desktop sales from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday in the US in 2016.
hg/jd (AFP, LUSA)