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China Bans New Internet Cafes

According to the state news agency Xinhua, the Chinese government will not allow any new Internet cafes to open this year as part of an effort to curb Internet addition amongst Chinese youth and online gambling.

The notice was issued by fourteen government offices, including the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Information Industry; according to the latter, China currently has about 113,000 Internet cafes and bars. China has already banned anyone under the age of 18 from such cafes unless they’re run and supervised by a school; the state assesses heavy fines against establishments who allow minors to access the Internet.

According to Xinhua, the Chinese government believes as many a 13 percent of Chinese Internet users under the age of 18 are Internet addicts; official figures put the total number of Chinese Internet users in mid-2006 at 123 million, with about 15 percent of those being under the age of 18. Doing the math, China seems to feel it’s dealing with more than 2.4 million youths "addicted" to the Internet. Xinhua cites a report by the Beijing reformatory for juvenile delinquents which claimed more than a third of its detainees were "goaded" by online games or adult Web sites into committing crimes like robbery and rape.

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