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Net bars eyed closely by Guangzhou
By Qiu Quanlin (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-06-17 23:33

Almost 800 Internet bars have been closed down in the past four months in Guangzhou since authorities launched a crackdown on illegal facilities across the city.

"The campaign aims to protect young people's minds and physical health," said Tao Cheng, director of the Guangzhou Culture Bureau, at a news conference.

A man surfs the Internet in Shanghai. Guangzhou shut down nearly 800 Internet cafes to crack down illegal net bars and "protect young people's minds and physical health." [file]

Tao's department, together with other 10 others, such as the Guagnzhou Industrial and Commercial Bureau and Guangzhou Education Bureau, organized a special co-ordination office to carry out the campaign beginning earlier this year, in an effort to screen young people in their formative years from unhealthy content on the Web.

Internet bars provide access services have grown rapidly in recent years.

According to Tao, more than 25 per cent of the city's net surfers use such bars.

"But some of the bars ignore the law by spreading distorted information that hurts social order and others become centres for illegal computer games," Tao said.

"Many of the games contain unhealthy content, such as violence, gambling, superstition and pornography," Tao said.

Lured by such games, some students do not attend school. Parents and teachers unable to properly supervise children complain the activity can harm children's minds and physical health, according to Tao.

Statistics from the Guangzhou Culture Bureau show 7,279 Internet bars have been checked out, and 50 have been forced to stop operating. Three were violating information security rules.

According to Tao, the city has opened a public telephone hotline to offer tips about bars suspected of conducting illegal activity, to strengthen efforts to conduct the campaign.

In addition, the city departments of education and public security has stipulated that Internet bars are not allowed within 200 metres from schools.

Internet bars found with minors inside three times or more will be forced to close, according to the regulations.

The city has decided to set up a chain of Internet bars in the next few months, hoping to make such facilities more standard and healthy for the public.

To date, two Guangzhou-based chains have been allowed to conduct city-wide operations, Tao said.

In addition, seven out of a dozen Internet chains have obtained operating licences from the provincial authorities to conduct business.

To better inspect such sites,the city will establish a technical administrative system by the end of this month.

Under it,Internet bars will undergo a daily check to ensure security,Tao said.

Tao's department, together with Guangzhou Education Bureau, issued a letter for children, parents and schools several days ago, calling on them to be more cautious about illegal information from websites.

Meanwhile, about 10,000 school children in the city signed a pledge, vowing to keep away from illegal Internet bars on Wednesday, according to Guangzhou Daily.

"Internet bars should help speed up the development of the Internet industry and spread healthy information to the public, especially the young people," Tao said.

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