War against porn websites successful

By Zhu Zhe (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-05-29 06:54

At 17, Xiao Yi should have been in senior high school like others his age. Instead, he has been in a correctional facility for two years.

In 2005, the boy received a 10-year sentence for rape, and was sent to the Beijing juvenile correctional facility.

In retrospect, Xiao Yi (a pseudonym) says he regrets the moment in 2004 when he first clicked open a pornographic website.

"I could hardly stop It was so exciting," the boy mumbled. "I went to the Internet cafe almost every day, and was dreaming of making girlfriends."

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Half drunk one night, Xiao Yi sneaked into the student dormitory and raped a 15-year-old girl. "If I had not seen the porn websites, I would not have done such a thing," the teenager says wistfully.

Sadly, Xiao Yi is not an exception. Jin Hua, deputy director of the Beijing juvenile facility, said about 20 percent of the offenders last year committed rape, and almost all of them said porn websites were to blame.

Media reports have said that nearly half of the 23 million minor Internet surfers in China visit porn websites.

To offer the youngsters a clean Internet, the Ministry of Public Security and nine other government departments launched a six-month campaign in April to crack down on online activities such as distributing pornographic materials and organizing cyber strip shows.

Now, the campaign is reaching college campuses with the Ministry of Education lashing out at some school bulletin board systems (BBS) for making money from porn.

"We strongly condemn the hosts for making 'unlawful' money by distributing pornographic information," said Vice-Minister of Education Li Weihong.

"Student netizens are easily influenced and perverted by such information as they are still in their formative years and do not have a solid grip on the right values," she said.

Li said the ministry would open a section on its website for the public to report on campus websites and is drafting guidelines to regulate campus Internet services.

She also called on college instructors to be Internet experts to "get to know the mentality of today's students from the net".

Meanwhile, a report from the Ministry of Public Security released over the weekend showed that the anti-porn campaign had been successful.

From April 12 - when the campaign started - to May 15, police authorities have blocked more than 4,800 porn websites and advertisements. Nearly 160,000 bits of online information, including 90,000 about pornography and others on illegal gambling and drug selling, have also been filtered during the period, the report shows.

Police also cracked 244 online porn crimes and caught more than 270 suspects, according to the report.

"It has been a people's war," said Zhang Xinfeng, vice-minister of public security. He added that police authorities across the country had received more than 12,000 public reports on porn websites.

Zhang said according to police investigations, more than 90 percent of the porn contents, such as pictures and movies, are from abroad, especially Chinese-language porn websites based in other countries.

But the government can only block the foreign websites because it cannot shut them down.

The vice-minister also revealed that the government would assign more "virtual cops" to monitor and wipe out online porn. The experiment is confined to nine cities and the ministry said it planned to expand it to 100 cities.

(China Daily 05/29/2007 page1)

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