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Last Updated: Tuesday, 1 June, 2004, 10:32 GMT 11:32 UK
China censors online video games
Screenshot from WW2 strategy game Hearts of Iron
The WW2 strategy game Hearts of Iron distorts facts says China
China is tightening controls on online video games.

It has set up a censorship committee to monitor games following the banning of a Swedish game called Hearts of Iron, which portrayed Manchuria, Tibet and Xinjiang as independent nations.

A previous Norwegian game, Project IGI2: Covert Strike, incensed officials for its portrayal of the Chinese army.

The committee is charged with banning content that "could threaten national unity", said the state press.

Future imports

"Online games with content threatening state security, damaging the nation's glory, disturbing social order and infringing on other's legitimate rights will also be prohibited," said a Chinese Ministry of Culture statement carried by the official Xinhua news agency.

The Ministry of Culture will import some foreign online games whose contents accord with Chinese national conditions and bring positive effects to young people's mentality
Tuo Zuhai, Ministry of Culture
In future only the disks of online games that are authorised by the Ministry of Culture can be imported.

Games currently in China must be examined by the committee before 1 September or the game operators will face punishment the statement said.

Members of the screening committee include teachers, university scholars, foreign affairs officials, information industry engineers and members of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.

Sex and violence

There are in excess of 140 online games in Chinese markets at the current time, with more than 80% of those foreign.

Screenshot of IGI2: Covert Strike
IGI2: Covert Strike angered Chinese officials
There are concerns among Chinese officials that the contents of such games are too often related to sex, violence and superstition.

Such content could adversely affect young people's mental health, said Tuo Zuhai, an official with the Ministry of Culture.

"The Ministry of Culture will import some foreign online games whose contents accord with Chinese national conditions and bring positive effects to young people's mentality," he said.


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