A county's ban of all its cyber cafes to help net-addicted
youngsters has sparked controversy, with some people stressing such
places are a source of information and it is unfair to close them
The remote Fangshan County in north China's Shanxi Province closed down its seven net
cafes in May.
The move came after the cyber centres failed to prevent underage
students from coming in.
So the Beijing-based newspaper Democracy and Law Times said
The clampdown happened after a large number of youngsters went
to the cafes to play illegal games and look at pornography,
abandoning their studies.
Students must be 18 to go online in an Internet cafe.
The ban had both supporters and critics. Parents and teachers in
the county generally praised it.
"Students who used to indulge in the Internet for hours a day
have now returned to school, and are making progress in their
studies," said He Xiaoqing, a teacher at the No 2 Middle School in
But some residents who often went to Internet cafes said the ban
has made their daily lives inconvenient.
"Net cafes gave us a platform for communication and getting all
kinds of information. Now, with every cafe closed down, our daily
lives are less diverse," a citizen surnamed Zhang said on an online
Zhang added that in many less developed counties, buying a
computer and getting access to the Internet was still beyond the
capacity of an ordinary citizen.
For some experts in law and sociology, banning all Internet
cafes was not the best way to deal with the problem of protecting
youngsters while at the same time developing the centres.
"The Internet is an indispensable part of a modern information
society. The management of it involves a long-term effort including
strict regulations and effective enforcement. A simple clampdown
cannot solve all problems," said Qiu Baochang, a lawyer with the
Beijing-based Huijia Law Firm, told China Daily.
"Even if related bureaus decide to close down an Internet cafe,
they still need to collect sufficient proof of law infringements
and follow the correct administrative procedures," added Qiu.
According to Qiu, a local commercial administrative bureau
should ensure net cafes abide by China's Internet cafe regulations,
which require them to keep underage visitors away. And all of
society, including parents and schools, should be responsible for
caring for and disciplining children.
"We cannot just blame net cafes for all wrongdoings," said
In 2004, the city of Chibi in Central China's Hubei Province
shut down all of its 57 net cafes.
However, the move was rejected by the supervisory provincial
bureau which said the ban was "not feasible," reported local
newspaper the Wuhan Morning Post.
The latest survey released by the China Internet Network
Information Centre showed 30 million of the country's 200 million
primary and middle school students were regular netizens by June.
They accounted for nearly a quarter of the country's 123 million
A previous survey by the Jiangsu Provincial Youngster Psychology
Research Centre in May showed that 48.5 percent of student netizens
played games and 36 percent were engaged in "chatting" online.
About 10 per cent of those surveyed admitted to visiting
(China Daily October 9, 2006)