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Chinese figures released today by the China Network Information Centre show that in comparison with 2012 there has been an increase in the number of internet users now on-line in the country. There are currently 591 million people on-line today in China, which is a steady increase of 10%.

While the Chinese may not have access to Twitter, Facebook and Google, they do have their own versions of those social networks and search engines. Although the access question is rather debatable since there is the possibility of gaining access to those sites through a proxy or through a Virtual Private Network to make the internet-user look as if they are actually connecting from another country.

While the West has been blinded by the human-rights issues and the right to access information freely, the PRC has been able to protect its domestic market and create its own social networks and internet sites that are largely set to become even bigger than our own giants. One such site, Baidu is ranked 5th in the world in terms of connection and is a strong future competitor to Google. Euromonitor International has shown that Tmall looks set to become a strong contender to Amazon and will certainly overtake them within the next three years. The Chinese retail market on-line is worth $64 billion today and sales for Tmall will hit over $100 billion by 2016. Amazon, which is their equivalent in the rest of the world, has sales that will stand at about $94 billion for the same year. Today, Tmall only controls 12% of sales on the internet in global terms, but they are only selling to the Chinese domestic market today. That will change in the coming years.

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