China’s online population grew by 73 million in 2007 to reach a total of 210 million by the end of the year, AFP reported, citing figures released by the state-linked China Internet Information Center (CNNIC). With only 5 million fewer internet users than the US, CNNIC expects China to become the country with the world’s largest number of web surfers in the first few months of 2008. China is already the number-one nation for mobile phones, with users numbering 539.4 million at the end of November. Internet use in rural areas, previously held back by low incomes and weak infrastructure, was up 127.7% year-on-year to 52.6 million. A separate report claimed that China’s total number of online gamers rose 23% to 40.17 million in 2007 with sales growing 61.5% to US$1.46 billion. New rules are to be issued to crack down on the "undesirable" elements of online games amid fears of growing internet addiction among young people.