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12,575 Illegal Internet Cafes Shut Down

The government has been working hard to create a safer environment for young people in China by shutting down illegally operated businesses in 2004.

The government closed 12,575 Internet bars, 2,861 dance clubs, 3,434 video halls and 131,481 snack counters.

From October to December in 2004, eight ministries including Ministry of Education, Ministry of Public Security and Ministry of Justice, launched a nationwide campaign to close these illegal businesses, which were mainly located nearby primary schools and middle schools.

According to the ministries, Chinese parents had complained that the businesses had "severely affected students' cultural lives."

During the time, public security organs at all levels also cracked 5,926 criminal cases relating to the safety of students and teachers and made more than 200,000 arrests.

Meanwhile, Chinese police have warned the public to avoid illegal Internet advertisements selling spy equipment, forged certificates and other banned items.

Most of these messages hawk wiretaps, detective cameras, sex potions or various fake certificates, said officials with the Internet Safety Bureau under the Ministry of Public Security.

According to the ministry, these ads either appear on personal websites, public forums, university websites, or are spread via e-mail.

For example, on jxdingnan.com/2080 laser wiretaps are sold starting at 2,200 yuan (US$267.3) and detective cameras are priced at more than 3,000 yuan (US$362.91).

"Bank transfer preferred for payment and no face-face business," a notice on the site said.

Though most websites just want to swindle money, some do sell state-banned products, posing bigger threat to the public safety, the police said.

Most of the buyers were only curious about the banned products and the majority of them were afraid of reporting fake sites to the police, they said.

"Unhealthy advertisements are outlawed in China and those selling banned commodities are extremely harmful," said Xu Kangping, a law professor with Beijing Industry and Commerce College.

Police said they had increased the surveillance of these illegal messages and ordered website operators across the country to update software that will help detect illegal contents.

The ministry also set up a website and hotlines to encourage the public to report such cases.

In 2003, the police in Chongqing Municipality busted a gang that hawked spy equipment on the Internet. A dozen people were arrested and more than 60,000 yuan (US$7,258.21) was seized. More gangs selling spy equipment online were found last year, according to the authority.

(Xinhua News Agency February 14, 2005)

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