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China says there's no such thing as net addiction

Then warns on 'inappropriate use of internet'

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China's health ministry has turned down the country's rhetoric on internet addiction, and has warned against "boot camp" style approaches for habitual web abusers.

The ministry has issued guidelines for "inappropriate use of internet" saying there was no precise definition of internet addiction, state news agency Xinhua reports.

It said the principles of dealing with inappropriate use were no violence, no restriction on freedom and no "destructive surgeries". If psychiatric style symptoms emerged, then victims should turn to proper medical institutions, it said.

The government has already written off electro convulsive (shock) therapy as a treatment for net addiction.

The latest guidelines sound like a sharp rebuke to the advocates of quackery that has led to a number of tragedies, including the death of 16 year old Den Senshan in August.

Tao Ran, director of the country's first Internet addiction clinic under the Beijing Military Command General Hospital, was apparently untroubled by the redefinition, telling Xinhua "Internet addiction is a disease."

But, he added, it is one "which cannot be cured by military training or physical punishment,"

"It's dangerous that the treatment market is in a total mess. We need standards and guidelines," Tao said. ®

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