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China’s internet sector is already huge, but it’s about to get gargantuan

By Adam Pasick
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

The forthcoming IPO of Alibaba is expected to be the world’s biggest stock offering this year, thanks to its dominance in China’s giant e-commerce sector. In fact, nearly everything about the Chinese internet sector is super-sized: It has a staggering 632 million internet users, compared with a mere 277 million in the United States. Last year the number of smartphones and tablets sold in China nearly doubled, from 380 million to 700 million. And according to a new study by consulting firm McKinsey, the really impressive growth is yet to come.

Only 46% of Chinese are online (compared with 87% of Americans), and an even smaller share of businesses use the web. McKinsey argues that China’s largely consumer-focused internet is about to catch on with with businesses, boosting productivity and creating enough new products to add up to 14 trillion yuan ($2.25 trillion) to Chinese GDP by 2025.

Here are a few highlights from McKinsey’s research:

Here’s where China stands today, compared with the US:


China’s Internet economy is already huge:


Banking and health care are poised to reap the biggest benefits from going online:


The internet will have a big impact on China’s productivity, which is very low:


Any jobs lost to the internet will be more than offset by gains:


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