China Telecom has said its customers in mainland China enjoy the second fastest broadband internet speeds in the world.

The average speed of broadband service provided by the state-owned company is 17.5Mbps as of August this year, second only to South Korea, a China Telecom spokesperson said at an internet conference in Beijing on Tuesday, according to several mainland media reports.

china internet speed
China Telecom. Photo: Baidu

The spokesperson also announced at the 2015 China International Telecommunication Exhibition that the company’s new “Tianyi 4G” service introduced last month is even faster, reaching 40-50Mbps.

Chinese social media reacted with disbelief, while some media outlets reported the news with subtle mockery.

The China Popular Computer Week, a newspaper focusing on information technology, published the story with a picture hinting the news was “rubbish talk” on microblogging site Weibo. The picture depicted a prawn and an egg tied together with a string, literally meaning “Xia Che Dan”, or “prawn pulls egg.” However, a slang term with the same pronunciation as “Xia Che Dan” means “talking rubbish.” The clever pun was shared more than 15,000 times on Weibo.

china internet speed
A computer newspaper published the news with a pun. Photo: Weibo

Netizens commenting under the post complained about slow internet speeds and not being able to access websites such as Google.

Meanwhile, a poll conducted on showed more than 80% of respondents did not believe China had the second fastest internet in the world.

Vivienne Zeng is a journalist from China with three years' experience covering Hong Kong and mainland affairs. She has an MA in journalism from the University of Hong Kong. Her work has been featured on outlets such as Al Jazeera+ and MSNBC.