Happy Halloween: China closes 1,600 Internet cafes

It’s all in the name of cracking down on “pornography,” but I would guess it also has to do with increasing control over people’s minds in general.

uthorities in China have ordered more than 1,600 Internet cafes closed since February 2004, imposing more than 100 million yuan, or $12 million, in fines against their operators for allowing children to play violent or adult-only games among other violations.

Deputy director of the Culture Ministry’s Market Department, Zhang Xinjian, said more than 1.8 million Internet cafes throughout the country had been inspected and more than 18,000 had been ordered to cease their operations until reported violations have been corrected.

The latest clean-up comes at a time when the government is attempting to control violence and pornography on the Internet.

The government has also recently shut down hundreds of web sites and continues to block access to thousands of offending web sites outside China.

Last night I had a heated argument with a good friend of mine, who is Chinese. He thinks I am much too hard on the CCP, and he says almost all the things they do are good. I want to believe that, and I keep waiting for the evidence. As I’ve said before, I don’t believe they are monolithically evil or bad, and there are a lot of noble people in the party. But their never-ending battle for mind control doesn’t score them any points on my tally card.

Via Little Devi.

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Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.

The Discussion: 11 Comments

If this anti-pornograhpy campaign is really part of some grander mind control plan, then they’re not doing a very good job of it. 1600 shut down out of 1.8 million inspected is less than 1 in a thousand, how many internet cafe users would this really affect? I think westerners (especially the western media) have the tendency to view any action that the Chinese government takes as part of some hidden evil plot, when in fact nowadays most of the actions taken by the central government are in response to the general population’s demand. Take this anti-pornography campaign for example. There has been increasing popular outcry against the spread of pornography in China. China is still a very conservative society and nudity is still viewed as immoral by a majority of the population. This is the reason for the crackdown just as it is the reason why women are not allowed to go topless on the beach in China. Even if the CCP is replaced by a democratic government tomorrow, both of the above will still continue to happen until the whole society becomes more liberal.

October 31, 2004 @ 12:21 pm | Comment

I am suspicious because in the past they have lumped pornography and everything else that disturbs “harmony” into one basket. Along with the porn sites, they have blocked a lot of blog providers and, of course, news sites as well. When they set up their famous report-bad-sites program, it was not just porn sites that were targeted.

October 31, 2004 @ 12:47 pm | Comment

Yes they’re blocking porn sites as well as sites with sensitive political content. But there is a difference between the two, just as there is a difference between arresting people for rape and arresting people for political opposition.

October 31, 2004 @ 3:14 pm | Comment

The Chinese government bans the BBC site. I don’t know of any democratic government that does. To my mind, enough said.

October 31, 2004 @ 6:59 pm | Comment

Richard, to be honest, I don’t think closing one in a thousand or even a thousand in a thousand net bars will do much to harm Chinese access to news.

If you ever visited a net bar in China, you would discover that it is virtually unheard of to find someone reading news.

In net bars people chat on QQ/MSN, play online games, and watch porn. That’s it. Neither I nor anyone I’ve asked has ever seen anyone doing anything else in a Chinese net bar.

I think you can file this one under “non-story”.

However…

… somewhere, there is a parallel universe in which another Richard is publishing a much more relevant story celebrating the exploding use of cheap private satellite dishes in China’s cities.

However, that article might be uncomfortably close to sounding like good news from China, so will unlikely catch the attention of this universe’s Richard, I’m afraid. :-)

October 31, 2004 @ 9:33 pm | Comment

There will always be someone excusing a tyrannical regime. Depressing.

November 1, 2004 @ 1:51 am | Comment

I totally concur with Keir. I can’t even read Google News anymore!

And…What’s so politically sensitive about reading google news or any other news agency? CCTV certainly doesn’t mind spending an abundant amount of time about America in the news!

November 1, 2004 @ 3:59 am | Comment

first of all, i think it is ridiculous to crack down on pornography. secondly, i don’t think the party is that interested in cracking down on pornography. it’s just a nice excuse for people who fall for it, like hui mao. there are much more pressing problems facing china than pornography, but the current opinion seems to be that the best option is to cover them up. That is why the internet is controlled so strictly, to keep everyone in the dark. Don’t talk about what is going on in Sichuan, or what is going on in Anhui, or about evictions in Shanghai, or anything like that…
I doin’t supporty doing this, but, to be fair, if the government wanted to really crack down on pornography/ sex, maybe they could try closing down some of the sexshops… i mean… barber shops, that i see on pretty much every street in this city.
Oh yeah, I forgot, there is no ‘forbidden news content’ in fuck parlors.
And, from the people I know, cadres are the best customers.

November 1, 2004 @ 11:05 pm | Comment

Yeah, yeah, fine, all of you, but two and a half years ago just down the road from where I lived an internet bar burned down killing over 20 university students. Every now and then such things need to be cracked down on and (shock, horror) it turns out that the crack down might actually have some limited benefit to the population in general.

But wait, my apologising-for-tyranny-arse will never be allowed out of China again….
…..damn.

1600 out of 1.8 million does not constitute a crackdown on politically untoward content. Not in a country where I’ve heard people telling me exactly how much they hate Mao Ze(motherfucker)Dong out loud in public within spitting distance of ‘Maoist pilgramage sites’.

November 2, 2004 @ 9:02 am | Comment

I agree that this is not in and of itself a political crackdown. Hell, most people in the Internet cafes are palying video games. But they have used the “pornography” excuse in the past to crack down on political sites.

November 2, 2004 @ 9:16 am | Comment

Let’s not forget that China is an authoritarian state with no protection for free speech. The government doesn’t need an excuse to crack down on political expression, they do that all the time without having to resort to some half-hearted crackdown on pornography.

November 2, 2004 @ 10:42 pm | Comment

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