Survey studies Internet use in China
Updated: 2005-11-18 08:50
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.
People surf the
internet in Jinan, in eastern China's Shandong province. The Chinese
government forecasts the country will have a total of 120 million Internet
users by the end of 2005. [AFP]
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.
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
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
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
China has more than 100 million people online, second in the world to the
United States, according to government statistics.
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 Baidu.com 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.