A new report released by the Chinese state-financed Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) says that users of social-networking sites in China reached 235 million in 2010. The figure is nearly half of the country’s total online population, which reached 485 million in June, according to official statistics. The report, titled The Development of China’s New Media Industry, states that new media sites have provided new ways to shape public opinion and report news, but that they also threaten China’s security, as the United States frequently uses them to promote its “Western values.”
The report indicates that in 2010, China experienced a 41 percent drop in the overall number of websites compared with the previous year-an apparent result of tightened regulations. Meanwhile, a report by the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) indicated that the number of people using mobile telephones to surf the web had reached 318 million as of the end of June, a 15 percent increase from the previous year.
The lead researcher for the report, Liu Ruisheng said at the release conference in Beijing on July 12th that the Chinese language has become one of the most widely used languages on the Internet, second only to English. He said that users experience a “high level of freedom of online speech.” He added, “This means our content is getting stronger, while our supervision is getting more strict and more regulated.”