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Chinese Online Shoppers Soar against Global Downturn

Updated Beijing Time
The number of Chinese shopping on-line rose by 18.9 percent over the first six months, even as traditional retailers struggled to keep their customers amid the economic downturn.

The number of Internet shoppers increased by 14 million to 87.88 million, Liu Bing, director of the Internet development research department under the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC), told Xinhua Friday.

"The growth rate remained level with the latter half of 2008, which was 18.5 percent," he said.

The CNNIC, a state-run organization, released a report on Internet development in China in the first six months of 2009 on Thursday.

"People seemed to realize the advantages of online shopping amid the economic downturn. It is cheaper and more convenient," Liu said.

Taobao, China's largest online shopping site founded in 2003, reported an annual turnover of 99.96 billion yuan (14.5 billion U.S. dollars) in 2008, double that of the previous year, the company said in January.

But online shoppers account for only a quarter of Chinese Internet users, compared with every two thirds in Europe, the United States and South Korea, the CNNIC report said.

Liu believed the biggest bottleneck was security risks.

About 195 million Internet users were targeted by computer viruses in the past half year and 110 million had their user names or identities stolen, the report said.

"That's why only 29.2 percent netizens thought online transaction was safe," Liu said. "We need to build a sound cyber environment, which is not only use worthy but also trustworthy."

Online retailers need to improve third-party payment accreditation and logistics, he said.

China's Internet users reached 338 million in June 2009, up 13.4 percent over the end of 2008.

But they accounted for just 25.5 percent of the population while South Korea reported 76.1 percent.

Source: Xinhua

Editor: Jessie Hwang

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