Editor’s Note: The piece originally appears on LinkedIn, we reproduced it here under Kaifu Lee’s authorization. Kaifu is the founder of Chinese incubator Innovation Works , he also served as Google and Microsoft VP.

To an American, China feels very distant, very different, and very difficult.  You hear bizzarre tales, and see American companies fail in China, so you assume Chinese Internet users must be very different from you.

But actually, the Chinese Internet user is a lot like you — He browses, searches, and plays.  She uses SNS, IM, and mobile apps.  They all love smart phones, Angry Birds, and iPads.

But there are also significant differences between Chinese and American Internet users.  Can you guess the single biggest difference?

Culture?  Expressiveness?  Mobility?  Government regulations?  No, the single largest difference is age!  The average Chinese internet user is almost young enough to be the average American user’s son/daughter!

That is why Chinese users tend to use less email and more IM, less e-commerce and more games, less search and more blogging.  See the chart below for a more detailed breakdown.

The study above was done before mobile and SNS really took off in China.  I’ll tell you more about these trends in the coming weeks.

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