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China Internet Users Pass Half Billion Mark: CNNIC

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SHANGHAI (Reuters) - The number of Internet users in China have crossed the half billion mark, reaching 505 million users at the end of November last year, the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) reported.

The Internet penetration rate stood at 37.7 percent, up 3.4 percent over the end of 2010, CNNIC said in a report released late last month. This compares with Internet penetration rates of more than 70 percent for China's more technologically advanced East Asian neighbors, Japan and South Korea.

At the end of November, the number of microblog users exceeded 300 million, jumping from 195 million at the end of June, a CNNIC report released on Wednesday said, according to the official Xinhua News agency.

In December, the Beijing city government said it would tighten control over popular microblogs that have vexed authorities with their rapid dissemination of news, giving users three months to register with their real names or face legal consequences.

Sina Corp, the dominant force in China's microblogging, or Weibo, scene, is said to be contemplating the ways it can implement this rule in order to verify users' identities.

(Reporting by Melanie Lee)

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