China to Ban New Internet Cafes

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China has put in place a ban on all Internet café openings this year in an effort to combat Internet addiction and juvenile crime. Last year, a report from China national Children’s Center stated that 13 percent of the 18 million Internet users under 18 were online addicts.

On Tuesday, new agency Xinhua stated, “In 2007, local governments must not sanction the opening of new Internet bars.” The statement was released by 14 government departments, including the Ministry of Culture according to Reuters.

In the notice, Internet cafes with previous planning approval would have to be completed by June 30, 2007. Xinhua states that there are about 113,000 Internet cafés and bars in China.

In China’s annual session of parliament, The National People’s Congress called for stricter regulations so that teenagers would keep away from such cafés, which are considered to be linked to juvenile crime in China.

Xinhua quoted NPC deputy Yu Wen, who noted, “It is common to see students from primary and middle schools lingering in Internet bars overnight, puffing on cigarettes and engrossed in online games.”

Currently, minors are banned from cybercafés and hefty fines are cited to those that don’t follow regulations.

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