China now ranks second in the world for home internet use and could leapfrog the US as the biggest online nation in the next few years.

Interviews with Chinese householders conducted by US-based internet analysis firm Nielsen//NetRatings suggests that 56.6 million Chinese people now use the internet at home.

This promotes China to second place in the world rankings, ahead of Japan, which has 51.3 million users, Germany (32.2 million) and the UK (29.0 million). The US still leads the pack by some way with 166 million users.