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The Chinese government confirmed this weekend that it has closed 1,600 internet cafes and fined operators a total of 100m yuan ($12m) since March, when it began its crackdown on violent or pornographic content, and other material it considers harmful to public morality.

Government inspectors have checked up on 1.8m cafes since the campaign began, seeking out those letting kids play violent games or access subversive foreign sites. In addition to the 1,600 cafes that have been closed permanently, 18,000 have been shut down for "rectification", according to reports.

Zhang Xinjian, deputy director of the Chinese Ministry of Culture's market department said that "porn, gambling, violence and similar problems have adversely affected the healthy development of the Internet in China".

In June, ISPs were invited to sign up to a self discipline pact to prevent the spread of any material that could threaten "national security (and) social stability". The government has also taken action against online activists, and those using the web and other technologies to share unapproved information.

The government said that since the summer 445 people have been arrested and 1,125 web sites have been shut down. ®

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