BEIJING: The number of internet users in China rose by 42% to 298 million in 2008, furthering its dominance as the world's largest online population.

The country's government is also set to spend 47 billion yuan ($7.0bn; £4.8bn; €5.3bn) boosting the profile of three state-run media companies.

According to the China Internet Network Information Center, internet penetration rose to 22.6%, compared with a global average of 21.9%.

The number of consumers using the mobile web also grew by 113% to 117.6m last year, and the number of web users regularly reading online news via portals like Sina and rose to 2.34m.

According to the South China Morning PostChina Central Television, news agency Xinhua and the People's Daily will receive around $15bn in funds each, with smaller providers taking the rest. 

Observers say that resources from the country's finance ministry may also be used to fund a broadcast network similar to Al Jazeera, which is state-owned and operates from Qatar.

Data sourced from M&M Europe/Reuters; additional content by WARC staff