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Wednesday, 27 September, 2000, 14:04 GMT 15:04 UK
Shanghai shuts cybercafes
Chinese youths using internet
Internet usage is doubling every six months in China
Officials in Shanghai are shutting down more than half the city's 1,000 internet cafes amid fears they are corrupting users.

In particular, they are targeting cafes and net-bars which illegally allow underage youths to play popular video games such as Quake and Diablo.


Playing games is a primitive stage of computer use... we don't want to encourage this

Ye Hui, Shanghai IT Industry Administration Division
The Shanghai Daily newspaper quoted a local government official as saying that playing games on computers was "primitive".

He said people should be encouraged to use the internet to acquire information and skills.

Last week the authorities in Guangzhou announced the closure of 1,500 video game arcades following concerns about their influence on young people.

Parents are worried their children are losing interest in their studies and making friends with the wrong people.

Dissidents

Internet usage in China has nearly doubled since the beginning of the year, rising to 16.9 million users in August.

shanghai
Shanghai authorities have clamped down on nightlife
China is keen to encourage growth of the internet, but is worried about its use by dissidents.

According to China's laws, operators of internet bars must install a "software manager" which can tell the government who is using the computers.

Customers must also show identity cards when using internet cafes so they can be tracked down if they break the rules.

Human rights activists say the authorities have been exercising greater control of the internet recently.

Last month they arrested a high school teacher for posting articles critical of the communist authorities on the internet from a cybercafe in Nanchong.

They also shut down China's first public pro-democracy website run by a group of dissidents.

And in July the authorities charged the web entrepreneur behind China's first human rights website with subversion.

Control

But Frank Lu, director of the Hong Kong-based Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, said government attempts to control access to the internet would fail because cyberspace was too large.

"If people can't get political information from domestic websites they can find it overseas.

"The older generation of leaders simply don't understand the way the internet works," he added.

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See also:

23 Sep 00 | Asia-Pacific
China fights game arcades
09 Aug 00 | Asia-Pacific
China to battle internet 'enemies'
21 Aug 00 | Asia-Pacific
Jiang backs China's net growth
15 Jul 00 | Asia-Pacific
China charges web entrepreneur
08 Aug 00 | Asia-Pacific
China shuts dissident website
02 Feb 00 | Asia-Pacific
China cracks down on internet cafes
14 Sep 00 | Asia-Pacific
Shanghai drug crackdown
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