The number of Chinese internet users reached 111 million as of 31 December 2005, up from 94 million surfers one year ago, according to a survey conducted by the Chinese Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC), which oversees the .cn top-level domain.

More than half of Chinese internet users (64.3 million) use broadband connections, such as DSL (digital subscriber line), to get online, CNNIC said. By comparison, CNNIC estimated that China had 42.8 million broadband users one year ago.

Earlier this month, CNNIC announced that the number of names registered under the .cn top-level domain topped one million at the end of last year. Combined with the number of internet users, which topped 100 million for the first time during mid-2004, this means that China's internet industry has reached a new level.

However, CNNIC said that future development of internet usage in China must address the growing imbalance in usage between the country's relatively wealthy coastal regions in the east and the less developed areas in the country's western interior, it said.