China's netizen population - the world's largest - grew to 618 million by the end of 2013, driven by popularity of smartphones, a report in Beijing said today.
Figures from the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) showed China has 53.58 million new Internet users last year, of which 73.3 per cent use mobile phones to access the virtual world.
The CNNIC said the number of mobile phone netizens totalled 500 million by the end of last year as people developed a heavy reliance on instant messaging services.
Interestingly, Chinese netizens were getting less interested in microblogs, social media websites and social forums like Sina Weibo - akin to a hybrid of Twitter - as the number of microblog users declined by 27.83 million.
The microblog users numbering over 250 million were stated to be an emerging alternated media, which in turn put pressure on state media. China does not permit private media.
The rise of mobile Internet has also triggered growth in the number of users playing online games and watching videos on smartphones, which increased 54.5 per cent and 83.8 per cent respectively year on year, state news agency Xinhua said.
Liu Bing, the center's deputy director, said mobile network will embrace more opportunities this year as the country starts to promote 4G services with even faster speed.