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Growing Internet Use in China Reflects Changing Society

Last month, China passed the United States in the number of people online. The growing Internet use has given the Chinese a chance to see how the rest of the world views them, and is helping shape the attitudes of younger generations. Margaret Warner reports from China.

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  • RAY SUAREZ:

    Margaret Warner finishes two weeks of reporting in China with this story about the Web and how it touches a vast audience.

  • MARGARET WARNER:

    This Internet cafe in downtown Beijing is open 24 hours a day. And for most of the day, it's packed, its young customers engrossed in games, movies, music videos, and chat rooms.

    All across China, Internet use is exploding. It's no wonder that last month, for the very first time, China surpassed the U.S. in the number of people online.

  • KAI-FU LEE, President, Google China:

    It's really unbelievable. The growth rate has been 40 percent, 50 percent even in the last two years.

  • MARGARET WARNER:

    Kai-Fu Lee is chairman of Google China. He says nearly a quarter of China's 1.3 billion people will be online by year's end. They're not just more numerous than in the United States. They're different.

  • KAI-FU LEE:

    The Chinese users, on the average, are much younger than the American users. Average American user is about 45; average Chinese user is about 25. So that means they're going to be more curious, more interested in any kind of information.

  • MARGARET WARNER:

    Or are they? The Internet played a crucial role when the Sichuan earthquake hit. News of the disaster swiftly appeared on social networking Internet bulletin boards before the mainstream Chinese media jumped on the story. And the Web has also been key to the citizen effort to donate money and to find out which town needs which relief supplies.

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