It’s been reported that China has another massive increase of internet users. By mid-year of 2006, there were 123 million users and the power to the masses reached 131 million in October. These numbers brought me back to my quest for the number of people in China that cannot access the urban consumer market, let alone the internet. I explored this question recently in an earlier post about the different attitudes towards internet censorship. When I was writing that post, I couldn’t find much credible information on the break down of China’s population. I found some news story about the number of people in poverty as reported by the Xinhua News Agency but I didn’t think that was adequate.

Last night, I located the website of the National Bureau Statistics of China which publishes the China Statistical Yearbook annually. But the site loads really slow and the content of those books are not available to view online. I looked around again today and located the Population Reference Bureau based in Washington, DC. The PRB collects, analyzes and publishes population data of the world. The World Population Data Sheet is particularly handy because it summarizes data into a table formatted to print in a few pages. That data is also easy to search online if you are interested in some specific topics.

For my interest of economic power (or the lack of it), I picked out these numbers on China from the 2006 data sheet published this past August:

  • Population, mid-2006: 1,311,400,000 people
  • Urban Population: 37% (equivalent to 485,218,000 people)
  • Population Living Below US$2 per day: 47% (equivalent to 616,358,000 people, note that living below US$1 per day is the international standard for extreme poverty)

I am no economist or statistician but I feel reasonably comfortable to say that about half of China’s 1.3 billion people do not have any economic power to purchase or access American goods and services any time soon. All in all, I hope that the business people and those who like to say China’s human rights records are not so bad for its size would stop referencing the entire population for their own conclusion about the country.