Estimates offered by industry analysts about the amount of Chinese bloggers vary widely, ranging from a couple of million to more than 30 million, or roughly one-quarter of all Chinese internet users. Now, the government-backed CNNIC (China Internet Network Information Centre) has weighed in with its own estimate, putting the number of active bloggers at 7.7 million.

CNNIC, which manages the .cn top-level domain and tracks Chinese internet usage statistics, defines an active blogger as one who updates their blog at least once per month on average. Beyond the number of active bloggers, far more Chinese internet users have dabbled with the medium, with a total of 17.5 million users setting up 34 million blogs, it said.

CNNIC estimated that 75 million internet users read blogs, with 54.7 million of these users defined as 'active' blog readers. China had 123 million internet users at the end of July, based on CNNIC's estimate.

Blogs have become very popular among Chinese internet users in a short period of time. The number of bloggers has increased at a rate that is three times faster than the overall rise in internet users, CNNIC said. The result has been a 30-fold increase in bloggers since 2002, it said.

At this rate, the number of active bloggers in China will hit 10 million before the end of this year, CNNIC said.