China has nearly 20 million bloggers

China had 19.87 million Internet bloggers at the beginning of November, 24% more than a year before, the Xinhua news agency said, quoting a study by search engine Baidu.

While more than 15% update their blogs at least once a week, only 4.6% do it daily, Baidu found. Blogs devoted to medicine and education are particularly popular, it added.

The report came some six weeks after state press reported that China intends to require its millions of Internet bloggers to emerge from the shadows and register under their real names in a move that is raising privacy concerns.

Under the system, bloggers would be allowed to continue using their online pseudonyms, but must register with authorities under their real names, Xinhua said.

Xinhua quoted the head of the Internet Society of China, Huang Chengqing, as saying that some bloggers used their anonymity to disseminate "irresponsible and untrue" information, and called them a "bad influence".

Human rights groups often criticise China for censoring content it views as objectionable, such as information on the nation’s human rights record and on Western-style democracy.

Several of the world’s top Internet search engines have also come under fire for bowing to Chinese censorship demands and for turning over personal user data to Chinese authorities, a move that has resulted in some Web users being jailed.

Huang acknowledged the concerns over free expression, but said there needed to be a balance between freedom and responsible Web use.

Huang gave no firm timetable for implementing the system, saying authorities would listen to feedback from online users before deciding its final shape.


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China has nearly 20 million bloggers