BEIJING, Jan. 19 (Xinhua) -- The number of people using the Internet in China rose to 457 million at the end of 2010, up 73.3 million from a year earlier, the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) announced Wednesday.
This meant over one-third, or 34.3 percent, of China's population was using the Internet at the end of last year.
Chinese netizens spent about 18.3 hours online every week or 2.61 hours each day, the report said.
The number of Internet users in China's rural areas totalled 125 million last year, up 16.9 percent from the previous year, thanks to improved Internet-related infrastructure.
The number of people shopping online climbed the most compared to other online services, up 48.6 percent year on year, followed by people using e-banking and online payment services, up 48.2 percent and 45.8 percent respectively.
"The traditional sectors have underpinned Internet growth over the past 10 years, and in the next 10 years the Internet will feed the traditional sectors," predicted Lu Benfu, an expert on the Internet economy at the School of Management, the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
Taobao.com, a Chinese-language website for online auctions and shopping founded by Alibaba Group, reported nearly 200 million registered members and more than 200 billion yuan (29.07 billion U.S. dollars) in turnover, creating at least 1 million online sales related jobs.
As the Internet converges with the traditional sectors, it could well help boost economic restructuring and social development, Xi Guohua, China's Vice Minister of Industry and information Technology.
About 66.2 percent of Internet users, or 303 million, used mobile phones to surf the net, an increase of 5.4 percentage points from the previous year, the report said.
Though the growth speed of China's mobile phone Internet users slowed last year, wireless Internet growth momentum was strong, said China Mobile Chairman Wang Jianzhou.
The number of people going online via laptops grew at a faster pace than that of those surfing the net using mobile phones or desktops. About 45.7 percent of netizens used laptops to surf the net, a year-on-year increase of 15 percentage points.
Despite progress, China's Internet capability still faces challenges. The average connection speed last year was relatively slow: merely 100.9 KBps (kilobytes per second), the report said.
The speed was about half of the global average of 212.5 KBps, according to figures from the U.S. network giant Akamai in early 2010.
Despite harsher measures on network security management, about 45.8 percent of Internet users encountered viruses or Trojans, while 21.8 percent of them fell victim to account break-ins and password theft.
New Internet applications have become increasingly popular in China.
Microblogging users mushroomed to 53.11 million, about 13.8 percent of China's total netizens at the end of last year, the report said.
Microblogging has rapidly increased since Sina.com and QQ.com introduced their applications at end of 2009, said Huang Chengqing, vice chairman of the Internet Society of China (ISC), China's Internet watchdog.
More Chinese are using group-buying websites to enjoy bulk discounts. Group-buying websites in China emerged in January last year and have snowballed to about 1,800 now in operation.
About 18.75 million or 4.1 percent of China's Internet surfers used group-buying websites, the report said.
The survey was carried out among 60,000 individuals and 5,103 enterprises in 31 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities on the Chinese mainland, as well as nearly 90,000 completed online questionnaires.