TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Survey Studies Internet Use in China

Survey Studies Internet Use in China

Patrick Casey (
Thu, 17 Nov 2005 12:16:16 -0600

By PATRICK CASEY, Associated Press Writer

A typical Chinese Internet user is a young male who prefers instant
messaging to e-mail, rarely makes online purchases and favors news,
music and games sites, according to a new study.

The only major public opinion research tracking Internet use in China,
the survey was conducted in five cities by Guo Liang of the prominent
Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, the government's main
think tank.

According to the study, released Thursday at the Brookings Institution
in Washington, about two-thirds of survey participants use the
Internet for news -- often entertainment-related -- or for online
games. About half download music and movies.

They also tend to prefer instant messaging to e-mail, and they are
relying on the Internet more frequently than before to contact others
who have the same professions, hobbies and political interests.

Online purchases still remain unpopular in China.

Three-quarters of users surveyed have never bought anything over the
Internet, and only 10 percent make purchases even once a month. Among
those who do buy online, most pay for entertainment while others buy
phone cards, or computer hardware or software.

"Many people don't trust the quality of goods bought online," Guo said
Wednesday. "If they buy it in a store and don't like it, they can
easily bring it back."

The survey was conducted in five major cities: Beijing, Shanghai,
Guangzhou, Chengdu and Changsha. The cities also were surveyed in 2003
as part of the ongoing study that began in 2000 as a way to provide
empirical data and analysis on Internet development in China. Results
do not necessarily project countrywide because Internet use in rural
areas is lower than in cities.

Guo, the academy's leading Internet expert, describes the typical
netizen in the five cities surveyed as young, male, richer and more
highly educated.

Males make up two-thirds of the Internet community, and more than 80
percent of users are under 24. Among people ages 25 to 29, 60 percent
to 80 percent go online.

China has more than 100 million people online, second in the world to
the United States, according to government statistics.

Its government has aggressively promoted Internet use for education
and business, though it has also tried to keep its citizens from
material it deems subversive or pornographic. Online dissidents are
regularly arrested.

According to Guo's survey, more than one-third of the urban users
surveyed do not use e-mail. Of those that do, only about one-third
check their e-mail at least once a day.

"I think Chinese people prefer instant contact. Very few Chinese use
answering machines and e-mail is like an answering machine. It's
convenient but but not immediate," Guo said.

Forty-two percent say they do not engage search engines. Those who do
seek leisure or entertainment news, as well as information useful for
work or study. Traditional news ranked behind those searches. Online
portal was used by half of those surveyed, compared with a
quarter for Google, the leading search engine in the United States.

The survey, conducted in February and March, was based on random
door-to-door household interviews in the five major cities. The sample
size was 2,376, including 1,169 Internet users and 1,207 nonusers.

On the Net:

Markle Foundation:
China Internet Project:
China Internet Network Information Center:

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press.

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