BEIJING (AP) — China's population of Internet users has risen to 591 million, driven by a 20 percent rise over the past year in the number of people who surf the Web from smartphones and other wireless devices.

The figures reported Wednesday by an industry group, the China Internet Network Information Center, represented a 10 percent rise in total Internet use. The number of wireless users rose to 464 million.

China's communist government encourages Internet use for business and education but tries to block access to material considered subversive or obscene.

Internet companies are scrambling to expand wireless service. This week, the operator of China's most popular search engine, Baidu Inc., announced it will pay $1.9 billion to acquire a distributor of smartphone apps, 91 Wireless Websoft.

 

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