SHANGHAI, China (AP) -- Shanghai police have shut down almost 200 Internet bars that operated without licenses requiring them to block Web sites deemed subversive or pornographic, a city official said Monday.
Police in China's largest city confiscated 965 computers in a sweep that began April 26, said an official of the Shanghai Industrial and Commercial Administration Bureau, which ordered the crackdown.
The 197 bars closed in the sweep were located in residential neighborhoods overlooked in previous crackdowns, said the official, who refused to give his name.
The crackdown underscores the communist government's desire to encourage the Internet as a commercial medium without creating a forum for political dissent.
Internet bars have appeared in almost every Chinese city and even large villages. Most are nothing more than one-room shops with a dozen personal computers. Some 30 million of China's 1.3 billion people now go online, up from 4 million just three years ago, according to government figures.
Beijing requires Internet bars to install software to block restricted Web sites and record user activities.
The banned Web sites are run by democracy advocates, outlawed religious groups like Falun Gong and some foreign news organizations. Web sites containing pornographic material are also blocked.
Last year, Chinese authorities reportedly shut down 17,000 Internet bars that failed to install the site-blocking software.
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