According to figures from Neilsen/NetRatings and Beijing-based BDA, China is now the world’s largest user of the internet.

Things aren’t quite so straightforward though, as the claim is based on rates of growth rather than any concrete figures.

China increase

In fact, according to the latest figures from the end of 2007, Niesen/NetRatings put the total US online audience at 216m for the final quarter while BDA put the Chinese total at 210m for the same period.

However, with the Chinese market growing significantly faster than its US counterpart, it’s widely believed that China has now overtaken the US.

"Based on these sources and the assumption that these markets have continued to grow in 2008 to date at the same rates that they grew in 2007, we can conclude that China has by now comfortably surpassed the United States as the world's largest internet population," BDA analyst Bin Liu said in a statement.