China now has the world's greatest number of internet users, according to Beijing-based research firm BDA.
The projected figures were based on data from the China Internet Network Information Center which registered the country's internet user base at 210 million at the end of 2007.
BDA said that Nielsen//NetRatings estimated US web users at 216 million for the same period, making China the world's largest user of the internet given the recent pattern of growth rates.
"Based on these sources, and the assumption that these markets have continued to grow in 2008 at the same rates that they grew in 2007, we can conclude that China has comfortably surpassed the US as the world's largest internet population," said BDA analyst Bin Liu.
BDA said that e-commerce will be the next sector to witness stellar growth in China as businesses reap the benefits of a newly emerging online consumer market.
"China will emerge as part of an Asian 'New California' where innovative applications and companies help shape consumer trends globally," said BDA chairman Duncan Clark.
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