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China steps up assault on net cafes

No new establishments during 2007

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China has announced a ban on the opening of new internet cafes, Reuters reports.

Xinhua news agency today quoted a directive "jointly released by 14 government departments, including the Ministry of Culture", which declares: "In 2007, local governments must not sanction the opening of new internet bars." In addition, net cafes already approved must be open for business by 30 June.

According to Xinhua, there are around 113,000 internet "cafes and bars" across China. National People's Congress deputy Yu Wen said: "It is common to see students from primary and middle schools lingering in internet bars overnight, puffing on cigarettes and engrossed in online games."

The net cafe clampdown comes as China looks to moderate the negative influence of the internet. In January, Chinese Communist Party big cheese Hu Jintao pledged to "purify the internet environment" by promoting its "civilised running and use". ®

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