Half of China’s population now uses the internet on a mobile device

The growth of smartphone sales may be declining, but the reach of mobile internet in China has now reached the notable threshold of 50 percent for the first time.

That’s according to the China Internet Network Information Center — CNNIC, the government agency responsible for the internet — which this week announced (Google Translate link) the latest internet stats for the country.

As of December, 2016, China had 731 million internet users. That figure represents 53.2 percent of China’s population, meaning that it is almost on par with the population of Europe: 743 million people. But, perhaps more impressively, 95 percent of internet users are on mobile; that’s 695 million in total. That means that, for the first time, half of China’s 1.4 billion population use the internet on a mobile device.

Over the past year, the CNNIC said, China added 42.99 million new internet users as adoption of the web grew by 6.2 percent. That’s higher than the global average and consistent with the previous twelve months. One year ago, the organization reported 688 million internet users, up some six percent from 649 million in January 2015, when the mobile rate was 90.1 percent.

Other interesting data tidbits from this year’s CNNIC report include:

  • 168 million people use car-hailing apps, up 38 percent from 46.16 million
  • China has 469 million mobile wallet users, that’s up 31.2 percent over the past year
  • WeChat is the top app, used by 80 percent of all internet users in China