Xu, who works at IHEP, recalled that people at the institute thought establishing the connection was like "sending someone to the moon."
Only until 1995 was the first public Internet connection made available. Now China's Internet population is expected to exceed 470 million by the end of the year, according to Beijing based technology consultancy BDA.
The development of the Internet in China has been a surprise, said Cottrell, noting that he originally believed the Chinese government would forbid access to the Internet.
"I thought this would be due to the Chinese government trying to keep a lid on society," he said. "Of course as time has gone on, it's always been exciting how China has forged ahead, and how the Internet is really helping this."
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