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Chinese officials have launched a fresh crackdown on cybercafes after a regulation banned them from operating within 200 metres of schools.

Police in Xiamen, in China's Fujian province, have shut down 45 Internet cafes in the city, the South China Morning Post reported. Chinese kids were turning some of the establishments into PC games rooms, with parents and teachers dubbing the cybercafes "electronic heroin".

Around 45 per cent of the cafes patrons were high-school students, and another 35 per cent were youngsters who had left school, a survey found. Over half logged on to chat, 30 per cent to read newspapers online, and ten per cent to email and gain stocks and shares information.

The police were quick to crack down on the dens of iniquity in Xiamen, and passed a regulation that no cybercafe could be set up nearer than 200 metres to a school. The city's Public Security Bureau insisted it must increase its role as an "Internet policeman".

This is not the first time China has tried to control Internet cafe use. In February, Shanghai officials raided and shut down 127 unlicensed cybercafes - it claimed they "corrupt the minds of young people" and posed a threat to state secrets. ®

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