Pornography crackdown opens up Chinese views on sex

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When Beijing graduate student Xiao Ying, 24, found his Qvodplayer video software had failed to work, it was because the authorities were cleaning up the Internet - and his private life.

Qvodplayer had been banned because it made adult videos accessible.

Two months after raids on prostitution and karaoke hostess bars in the southern city of Dongguan, a crackdown on pornography was launched. This time, the battlefield is the Internet.

The "Cleaning the Web 2014" campaign will run until November and websites, search engines, mobile application stores, Internet TV, USB sticks, and set-top boxes will all be monitored. All online texts, pictures, videos, and advertisements with pornographic content will be deleted, and websites will be shut down or lose their operating licenses if they produce or spread pornographic content.

So far more than 100 websites have been shut down and thousands of social media accounts said to contain pornographic content have been closed.

Even major web portal was suspended from publishing and disseminating audio and video because it allegedly hosted pornographic content. Sina posted a public apology, saying it would carefully observe the authorities' decisions and more strictly supervise its content.

Without Qvodplayer, Xiao can download feeds through software that bypasses web monitoring.

"I'm single now and I often download adult videos," says Xiao, who broke up with his girlfriend a year ago. "After all, sex is a basic human need and it's wonderful."

With the campaign in full swing, Xiao and other young Chinese are becoming more open to talking about sex.

Visitors to the Zhihu forum frequently pose questions such as "Which adult video has moved you to tears?"; "Can a porn actress live an ordinary life when they stop acting?"; and "What do women think of a man watching adult videos?"

Some women admit to watching with the men. Li Yuan said on Zhihu, "As a woman, I believe a man who never watches pornography is psychologically or physically ill."

Dai Jiaobu recalled her experience: "The first time I watched, I was driven by curiosity. Then I felt it was a little disgusting. But now I often enjoy it with my boyfriend." She concluded that it was a necessity in her sex life.

She recalled once finding her father watching adult videos at home: "It was embarrassing, but it didn't affect my love for my father. I' m just curious that a 60-year-old man still needs it."

However, an unnamed official at the State Internet Information Office firmly defended the campaign: "Disseminating pornographic content online severely harms the physical and mental health of minors, and seriously corrupts the social ethos."

China has conducted several Internet crackdowns, backed by a lot of manpower and resources, but this costly work had little success, as online pornography had not shrunk, but grown, read a proposal published by Chinese sex researchers led by Dr. Chen Yaya and Fang Gang on Sina Weibo.

They went on to point out the limits of the ongoing campaign: "In a short time, it can indeed reduce users' exposure to pornography, but in the long run the effect is minimal. Due to errors of judgment and improper penalties, it might even be in conflict with the right to freedom of expression." The proposal called for an amendment to the definition of "obscenity and pornography" in laws and regulations, to implement a publication classification system, and to improve sex education among young people. Endi

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