BEIJING, July 7 (Xinhua) -- China's online forum users exceeded 117 million in 2009, said a blue paper on the development of the new media in China issued here Wednesday.
The paper, issued by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said since the 1990s online forums have become an increasingly important gateway for expression of public opinions.
The paper pointed out that in recent years Internet usage in the country's rural areas and western part had increased at a quicker rate than the more developed urban areas and eastern part.
Of the 384 million Internet users in the country by the end of 2009, over 100 million were from rural areas, according to the paper.
China had invested 4.3 trillion yuan in Internet infrastructure construction, the paper added.