Report: China Closes 3,300 Internet Cafes

The Xinhua News Agency also said 12,000 other Internet cafes are temporarily closed while improvements are being made.

by / December 30, 2002
BEIJING (AP) -- China has closed more than 3,300 Internet cafes in a safety crackdown launched after a fire in June at a Beijing cafe killed 25 people, according to the country's official Xinhua News Agency.

Nearly 12,000 other Internet cafes have been closed temporarily while they make improvements, Xinhua said last Thursday.

The fatal fire June 16 in Beijing's university district came amid complaints by some officials that such businesses were endangering the safety and morals of young people.

Many Internet cafes were unlicensed and had no fire exits or other required safety features. Officials complained that they also gave young people access to pornography and other harmful material online.

The crackdown adds to efforts by the communist government to control how Chinese use the Internet, even as it encourages the spread of online activity for business and education.

Special filters block Web surfers from seeing sites abroad run by Chinese dissidents, human rights groups and news organizations.

Under new rules that took effect Nov. 15, minors are banned from Internet cafes. Managers are required to keep records of customers' identities and to close by midnight.

Two teenage boys accused of setting the June fire in Beijing were sentenced to life in prison. Authorities said they had argued with cafe employees.

China has tens of millions of Internet users, many of whom until recently relied on Internet cafes for access to the Web. With the falling price of home computers, however, more small businesses and families can afford their own, and many customers now use Internet cafes to play computer games rather than getting online.

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