The mainland and Hong Kong combined could host the highest number of Internet users of any nation by the end of this year, according to research house eMarketer
eMarketer, a research house specializing in e-business and the Internet, reported that China's Internet population reached 176.5 million in 2007, compared to 188.1 million in the United States. The tally for China included Hong Kong.
Ben Macklin, senior analyst at eMarketer, said China would "overtake the United States as the most populous Internet nation in the world" this year. The Internet market in the Asian country, he added, is still relatively immature and together with countries such as Brazil and India, will drive growth in the number of Internet users globally.
Macklin noted that the number of Internet users in the Asia-Pacific region is also expected to grow by about 14.1 percent to 543.8 million, from 476.6 million last year.
The region's Internet population is forecast to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 11.4 percent--the second highest in the world after Latin America--between 2007 and 2012.
By 2012, nearly one in four persons worldwide will access the Internet at least once a month. About half of the total Internet population will come from the Asia-Pacific region.