The year 2014 marked twenty years of the internet on mainland China. Internet users in world’s most populous country reached 649 million as of the end of 2014, a 5% annual growth, according to the latest annual report by CNNIC.

Some 27% of internet users were from rural areas. The total internet access rate increased 2% year-on-year to 48%.

Source: CNNIC
Source: CNNIC

Mobile internet users reached 557 million, an 11% increase. Some 86% of Chinese users now access the internet through mobile phones, up from 81% a year ago.

With 35% of total internet users (and 51% of the higher education group) owning a tablet in 2014, 16% also own connected TVs.

Instant messaging apps have been adopted by 91% of smartphone users, up 5%. The majority are likely to be users of WeChat, which has 440 million monthly active users as of January 2015.

Mobile travel apps saw the fastest growth in user numbers, with 195% year-on-year growth. Shopping, payment and banking through mobiles saw 64%, 73% and 69% user growth, respectively.

The percentage of users (71.9%) consuming online videos through mobile for the first time surpassed that (71.2%) for PC or tablet.

Purchasing financial products online became popular in 2014, largely thanks to the success of Alibaba’s Yuebao. As of the end of the year, online financial product consumers had reached 78.5 million.

Of those surveyed, 61% who those who hadn’t used the internet by 2014 said the reason was they didn’t know how. Only 11% of non-internet users expressed willingness to do so.

Editing by Mike Cormack (@bucketoftongues)

Tracey Xiang is Beijing, China-based tech writer. Reach her at

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