Survey finds nation more connected by Internet

Wang Yong
Internet has penetrated 64.5 percent of the country's population, up from 45.8 percent in 2013.
Wang Yong


That’s the number of Chinese netizens by March this year. In other words, Internet has penetrated 64.5 percent of the country’s population, up from 45.8 percent in 2013, with the penetration rate increasing steadily over the past seven years.

Of the 904 million netizens, 897 million are mobile phone users, which means 99 percent of Chinese netizens surf the Internet through mobile phones. The number of urban netizens is 649 million, compared with 255 million rural ones. These are some of the findings from the latest national survey by the China Internet Network Information Center.

Also surveyed are netizens’ income levels and education, among others.

The survey finds that those with a monthly income of more than 5,000 yuan (US$707) account for only 27.6 percent of the total. In the breakdown, 14.3 percent report a monthly income between 5,001 and 8,000 yuan, while 13.3 percent claim a monthly income of more than 8,000 yuan.

But there’re doubts as to how accurate these figures are. For example, the survey shows that most netizens are students (accounting for 27 percent of all netizens), but their income is calculated only as what they get from their parents, scholarships or part-time jobs.

Students’ income so tallied should not necessarily reflect the overall picture of netizens’ income related to formal employment.

As to education, the survey discovers that only 20 percent of the netizens have received college or higher education. About 41 percent are junior high school graduates.

So can the figures explain why irrational ideas pop up now and then on the Internet? Does one’s reasoning capacity correlate with school education? Not necessarily.

Beyond books

In fact, school education is only one source from which people learn how to look at the world and themselves. It does not mean that the more books you read or the higher test scores you get at school, the more rational you will become. You can read after school.

You can even live a fulfilling life without reading books, especially textbooks.

To me, everyone has a right to be connected with the outside world. School education matters, because everyone should have an opportunity to go to school, not because it alone can decide one’s cognitive level.

While most media and netizen discussions seem to have focused on the findings on income and education, which are open to interpretations, one piece of information from the survey should warrant our attention for its sure effect on social progress.

By the end of last October, more than 98 percent of China’s villages had been linked with optical fibers and 4G networks, according to the survey. What’s more, 99 percent of the country’s poor villages had realized broadband connection. Nearly 80 percent of the netizens surveyed believe that Internet connection can help alleviate poverty, through digital commerce and online education.

Indeed, more than 96 percent of the country’s middle and elementary schools are now connected by the Internet, paving the way for greater access to quality education across the regions.

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