Report: China's online population hits 772 mln



China's online population hit 772 million at the end of last year, of whom, 40.74 million were added in 2017, up 5.6 percent from a year ago, according to a report on China's Internet development which was released on Wednesday.

China's Internet availability rate reached 55.8 percent, exceeding the global average by 4.1 percentage points, according to the report released by the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC).

In rural areas, the online population reached 209 million last year, up by 7.93 million from the end of 2016.

A total of 753 million Chinese used mobile phones to surf the Internet last year, making up 97.5 percent of the online population, said the report.

Smart devices could potentially expand the online industry, and online public services, as well as poverty reduction programs, have created a sense of fulfillment for many Chinese, said the CNNIC.

The report also mentioned the country's prominent achievements in artificial intelligence (AI) research last year. There were 2,542 AI companies across the world up to June 2017, and 592, or 23.3 percent of the total, are from China.