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Fight Against Internet Pornography Continues

China's nationwide campaign to crack down on pornographic websites is in full swing.

In the first 10 days of the campaign, nearly 700 pornographic websites have been taken down in Beijing, Shanghai and Chongqing municipalities and Liaoning and Guangdong provinces. According to public authorities, the websites involved production, trade and dissemination of lewd movies, still and video pictures, and arrangements of pornographic performances via chat room services. Some of them even made use of juvenile education networks for porn services.

Internet service providers across the nation have introduced a real-name registration system and forbidden to collect service charges for pornographic websites. Those violating the rules will be placed on a blacklist by local telecom supervisory authorities. Internet cafes are requested to install special software to keep lewd information away from web surfers. Meanwhile, informant centers, hotlines and email services have been launched in many areas to solicit complaints about the Internet porn business.

Governments are also taking legal action.

On Friday, a man surnamed Deng, the lawyer for a porn trade website that had been shut down in Chengdu, capital city of southwest China's Sichuan Province, was brought to trial. This was the first Internet porn case the city has prosecuted since the special campaign started.

In May, a 20-year-old hacker was arrested on charge of invading legal computer information systems and disseminating lewd advertisements for profit in Xiantao City in central China's HubeiProvince.

The man, surnamed Rong, illegally hooked up to a low-income welfare information system operated by the Bureau of Civil Affairs of Tianjin Municipality in north China, and launched a lewd homepage called "Sexual Paradise." In two months he recruited 66,000 registered club members.

With the anti-porn campaign proceeding quickly, some officials and experts have warned that importance should not only be placed on this special operation, but also on the establishment of a long-term mechanism for ensuring a clean cyberspace.

To this end, high technology will play a vital role, as it can be used not only to crack down on domestic Internet porn, but also to block lewd overseas websites. Existing and developing technology should be sufficient to ensure the Chinese government's triumph in its campaign, a researcher with the state lab on national information security said on condition of anonymity.

Some experts believe rampant web porn services to be partly the result of weak ethics education among the young people, particularly minors.

Recent statistics show that among the 87 million netizens in China, more than 30 percent are students, and some 50 percent are under the age of 24. Of the minor netizens, 46 percent often visited lewd websites.

Lack of sex education, especially for college students, is seen by some as another reason why there were so many young people browse pornographic webpages.

"Porn websites are rooted in young people who were thirsty for the facts of life, on which education is so deficient in the nation," said He Tao, a student from the prestigious Shanghai JiaoTong University.

He was echoed by a dozen more students from Wuhan, in central China, and Xi'an, in northwest China, during an interview with Xinhua. They remained calm about Internet porn contents and services, but paid more attention to measures the government would likely take to supplement the normal sex education.

Traditionally, Chinese parents have not discussed sex with their children. Many are still reluctant to do so.

Last year, China Social Survey, a well-known domestic sociological research firm, conducted a survey in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenyang and some other major Chinese cities. The findings showed that 92.5 percent of the students investigated have encountered sex-related problems, but only 2.6 percent got answers from their parents.

Sex education is almost absent in universities and colleges, though related courses, limited to basic physiological knowledge, have been arranged in middle schools.

Currently, only a few Chinese universities have lectures on sex education in China. Curious students are therefore often forced to turn to porn websites, video tapes and cartoons for answers.
(Xinhua News Agency August 1, 2004)

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