Over 700 million people in China are now online, as the government pushes its internet growth plan. But all is not gold that glitters - many Chinese are still offline and censorship remains a reality.
The number of internet users in China had further increased, authorities reported on Wednesday - while many Chinese remained offline.
710 million people had accessed the web at least once over the past six months, which was 3.1 percent more than in December, government agency CNNIC said in a statement.
Already before the latest increase, China had the largest web community worldwide in absolute terms, exceeding the number of German internet users by around 10 times.
But almost half the Chinese population did still not use the internet, while almost nine out of 10 Germans surf the web.
Especially in rural areas there were only few users, accounting for under a third of the total.
Business opportunities and censorship
China's government launched a growth plan dubbed Internet Plus last year in a bid to fuel the economy by fostering new links between online technology and business.
Several tech firms - such as retail giant Alibaba, social media company Tencent or search engine Baidu - already profit from China's growing internet population.
But China's ruling communist party also keeps a firm grip on what information becomes available and censors websites that could undermine its authority, which has repeatedly alarmed free speech advocates.
Google, Facebook and Twitter, for instance, are all blocked in the People's Republic.
mrk/hg (AFP, CNNIC, Washington Post)