Maxthon is growing, if you believe the company’s stated numbers. Now more than 60 million people are using this browser, up from last month, when we reported 55 million.

Charles River’s Bill Tai (another Silicon Valley blogger we put on the blogroll this weekend) and early Skype backer Morten Lund have backed the Beijing-based Maxthon.

CNET now reports that one reason Chinese are turning to it is to avoid censorship.

It works, the CNET story says, by funneling traffic through a Web proxy and thus circumventing government controls on information in search engines like Google, Yahoo, MSN and (snark insert: though we’re not sure how much sensitive information these sites are carrying anymore anyway). And Bill, we know you are probably out there surfing care-free, but get ready for persona non grata status by the Chinese.

This caught our eye too: It includes filters to zap all Web ads, including pop-ups — a valuable feature for the typically cluttered environments of Chinese Web pages. It’s highly customizable with hundreds of “skins,” and it includes tabbed browsing, baked-in RSS detection and readers, and remote-file access in partnership with software company Avvenu. It also has a development platform for plug-ins that inspires hundreds of techies to create add-ons for the browser.

This summer, Maxthon will release a new version, Maxthon 2.0, that will include parallel browsing, similar to the picture-in-picture feature on TVs, in which surfers can browse several sites in parallel. They’ll also be able to copy and paste text from one page to another without switching screens. The future of Maxthon is allowing people to customize it into their own information portal, Jacobsson said.

Flockers, watch out!

But wait. At very bottom of the story, we find out: Maxthon is built on top of the IE engine, removing it from direct competition with the software giant. Executives say that lets it add value to the browser through features like tabbed and parallel browsing. But that can be a double-edged sword, too, turning off people who dislike Microsoft.

Where wondering how long the Chinese are going to tolerate his thing.

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