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China going blogging mad

'Today, the great and handsome government...'

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Despite scant internet access outside major metropolitan centres, blogging in China is enjoying a boom to match its manufacturing industry.

Bejing trumpeted - via its PR machine Xinhua - that 17m Chinese have a weblog, a 30-fold increase on four years ago. The sites are read by 75m - that's almost four and a half readers each.

People's fascination with the onanistic pursuit seems to follow the same pattern there as it does here; some 70 per cent of Chinese blogs are dormant, untouched for over a month, Reuters reports.

Xinhua said: "The rapid growth of blog sites in China also brought potential business opportunities to the advertising industry," which will no doubt be music to Rupert Murdoch's, Yahoo!'s and Google's ears.

We're also pretty sure news of the rise of blogging will be cold comfort to the cyberdissidents listed here who journalists' rights organisation Reporters Without Borders says are currently languishing in Chinese prisons.

Having said that, it's unlikely that anyone outside Xinhua will get to read this, after it banned direct access to foreign news from within China earlier this month. ®

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