Gov't shuts down Internet bars before entrance exam

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The government of Linchuan district in Fuzhou, Jiangxi province, has temporarily closed down all Internet cafes in its jurisdiction in a bid to prevent students from getting distracted ahead of the college entrance examination.

The move implements a document issued by the district's cultural affairs bureau last year, which stipulates that the business of Internet bars should be suspended during the college entrance exam, which takes place on June 7 and 8 every year, the Jiangxi-based New Legal News reported.

Some local Internet cafe owners have been asked to shut down for nearly a month, the report said.

A local cafe owner complained on, the country's biggest online forum: "I will lose 10,000 yuan ($1,460) if my business is suspended for a month, when the cost of running the shop remains the same."

An insider at the Linchuan telecommunications office said Internet bar owners were notified before their web connections were snapped on May 10.

A notice from the district government said the compulsory suspension of Internet cafs between May 10 and June 9 was to "protect Linchuan's image as an education-developed region".

Linchuan district, known for its outstanding educational tradition, attracts a lot of students from all over the province to go to school there.

But Xiong Guanghui, head of Linchuan Internet Bars Plural Executive, denied there was any enforced action to close down Internet cafes.

"We're not authorized to shut down the cafes. Most of the owners suspended their business voluntarily," he told China Daily on Monday.

According to local media reports, the culture affairs bureau of Linchuan has been forcing Internet bar owners to sign an agreement every year since 2005, which claims they voluntarily agree to shut down their business temporarily.

Residents of Lincheng county in Shanxi province are faced with a similar situation.

Online complaints report that cables in all Internet bars in the county have been unplugged.

Unlike in Linchuan, this is the first time in Lincheng that Internet bars have been shut down ahead of the college entrance exam, said the local authority.

Lincheng residents argue that students can also get distracted by karaoke bars, which remain open.

A Lincheng government official surnamed He said he was not aware of the issue and refused comment. Although the suspension has triggered some criticism, parents whose children will be sitting for the coming exam are happy with the move.

A Fuzhou resident surnamed Wang said he's always worried his son will be distracted by Internet bars, and considers the government's move "appropriate and effective".

Yi Shenghua, a lawyer from Beijing Yingke Law Firm, said forcing Internet cafs to shut down is against the law.

"Government action should be restricted by law. It is illegal for the government to force the caf owners to suspend business without reaching agreements beforehand."

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