China cracks down on sales of Internet bar licenses

Updated: 2007-03-20 18:59

BEIJING -- The Chinese government has pledged to eradicate the sale of new Internet bar licenses, which has continued despite a ban earlier this month.

Tuo Zuhai, vice director of the Ministry of Culture cultural market department, said at a meeting on Internet bars that licenses were still sold in some areas for high profits after 14 government departments, including the Ministry of Culture, the State Administration for Industry and Commerce and the Ministry of Information Industry, banned the practise.

The sales were illegal and would be stopped according to laws and regulations, Tuo said.

"There are currently almost 120,000 Internet bars in China, which meets the demand of the market," said Tuo, adding an increase in the number would lead to "negative competition".

The government notice also required that school-owned Internet bars must be directly managed by the school, operated on a not-for-profit basis and must not be leased to individuals.

In recent years, Chinese government officials and commentators has voiced concerns over an alleged rise in the number of teenagers addicted to Internet cafes and gaming.

The number of Internet users in China reached 123 million in mid-2006. About 15 percent of the total -- or 18 million -- are under the age of 18.

A report by the Beijing Reformatory for Juvenile Delinquents claimed 33.5 percent of its detainees were influenced by violent on-line games or erotic websites when they committed crimes such as robbery and rape.

Many experts and lawmakers have suggested the government tighten the management of Internet bars.

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