A new report by the Chinese government indicates authorities in the country have shut down some 130,000 Internet cafes in the last six years for operating illegally—and, in many cases, that illegal operation was admitting minors. The closures are seen as part of China’s ongoing efforts to control how its citizens access the Internet and what content will be available to them—and, as part of that, the government apparently plans to crack down on independent Internet cafes and focus on promoting Internet cafe chains…since the chains will be easier to control.
About a year ago, China made it illegal for Internet cafes to admit minors, claiming that content found on the Web could be dangerous to them.
China’s official Xinhua News Agency (Chinese) indicates the Ministry of Culture claims more than 160 million Chinese access the Internet via Internet cafes. China’s Internet user population is estimated at about 450 million and growing, meaning roughly a third of China’s Internet users access the Internet via cafes. The Ministry also says there are about 144,000 Internet cafes in the country, about a third of which are operated by chains. Overall, China not only has the world’s largest market of Internet users, but also the largest market of Internet cafes. Recent third party estimates indicate about half of Chinese Internet cafe users are between the ages of 18 and 25.
China’s Ministry of Culture says it plans to release the text of its report next month.