Over 76.4% of Chinese are now online, with higher digital skills



A new report shows that more than 76.4 percent of China's population are now internet users, with better digital skills than ever before.

The report, released on Monday by the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC), found that China's internet user base had reached 1.079 billion by June 2023, an increase of 11.09 million since December 2022.

This brings China's internet penetration rate to 76.4 percent, which is 10 percentage points higher than the world average in 2022.

Colorful online life

The report also found that Chinese internet users are increasingly using a wide range of online services. For example, as of June 2023, the user scale of instant messaging, internet video and short video stood at 1.047 billion, 1.044 billion and 1.026 billion, respectively. This means that about 95 percent of Chinese internet users are using all three types of services.

The three fastest-growing sectors are online car-hailing, travel booking and online novels, the report said.

The report also noted that online video content has seen two important advancements in the past year.

First, there has been a trend towards industrialization. Chinese movie makers are increasingly using new technologies such as AI, big data and cloud computing to build a more efficient and cost-effective system for film production.

Second, the battle between long and short video platforms has largely been settled. The two types of platforms are now increasingly cooperating with each other, with short videos derived from long videos being used to promote the original content.

Both advancements have helped to improve the quality of online video content in China.

The report also highlighted the efforts that China has made to bridge the digital divide for senior people. All mainstream online services are now required to provide easier access for the elderly, and a total of 1,735 websites and mobile apps have been updated to make this possible.

More skilled netizens

For the first time in its 52 releases, the report provided data on the levels of digital skills that Chinese netizens have acquired.

According to the International Telecommunication Union, digital skills have three levels: basic, intermediate and advanced. Basic skills cover online operations such as email, search and managing privacy settings on smartphones. Intermediate skills are job-ready skills such as desktop publishing, digital graphic design and digital marketing.

About 86.6 percent of Chinese netizens have acquired at least one basic skill, the report said, and six out of 10 netizens have acquired an intermediate one.

The situation is better among student netizens, with 98.5 percent of them having at least one basic skill and 81 percent intermediate.

More than half of senior netizens, aged 60 years and older, have acquired at least one basic skill; the number of netizens with at least one basic skill has accounted for 75 percent of the netizens living in rural areas, said the report.

Stronger infrastructure

China's push for stronger network infrastructure didn't stop. The number of active users on the IPv6 network has grown from less than 100 million in October 2018 to 767 million in June 2023.

Download speeds for mobile and fixed networks were boosted by 59.9 percent and 15.1 percent, respectively, in the first quarter of 2023 compared with the first quarter of 2022.

The number of 5G base stations has reached 2.937 million, which is around 26 percent of the total stations. More than 16,000 industrial virtual private 5G networks have been built.

The report also said China has built the basic structure of a national big data center for the industrial internet.