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100 Websites Vow to Fight Unhealthy Internet Content
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A ceremony was jointly held by over 100 websites in Beijing Saturday to declare "war" against "Internet rubbish" by exposing unhealthy Internet contents.

"This brochure listing 100 examples of wrong doings on-line will help people stay away from unhealthy content," said Yang Haocheng, a Chinese student who has returned from his overseas study, attending the ceremony.

On the spot, people from 25 websites set up consultancy desks to give the brochures and instructions about how to use Internet scientifically while an Internet supervision center received reports on websites featuring unhealthy content.

Liu Zhengrong, Director of the Internet News Service Work Committee under the Internet Society of China (ISC), said the activity is a self-conscious step taken by the Internet industry to prevent an "unhealthy Internet culture" that has had a negative influence on society, especially the younger generation.

"The move also responded to Chinese President Hu Jintao's list of honors and disgraces," Liu added.

In recent years, the Internet industry in China has seen remarkable progress with more than 700,000 websites, which increase by 25,300 each year. The Internet has become an indispensable part of people's daily life but is plagued by unhealthy content.

China, with 111 million Internet users, is the world's second largest Internet market after the United States. However, a report released by the government said earlier this month that each of its e-mail subscribers receives an average of 16.8 pieces of junk mail a week, which are 60 percent of the total e-mails they receive.

"In 2005 alone, we received more than 120,000 complaints from the public, including 68.2 percent about pornography and 8.15 percent about gambling frauds," said ISC Secretary-General Huang Chengqing.

"The unhealthy content online severely harmed young people," Huang said, adding China has around 78 million netizens aged under 30, among which 18 and under-18 totaled 18 million. A latest survey shows 13.2 percent of China's young netizens have become Internet addicts.

Huang said violence, online chatting, pornography and online gambling are major cyber space attractions to young netizens. Therefore, Internet websites operators and content providers should take the social responsibility to create a healthy environment for the younger generation to get access to the outside world.

According to him, the ISC has urged their 2,600 members nationwide to be disciplined when operating websites, and netizens to properly use the Internet.

The nationwide campaign has had an immediate effect, as reports on unqualified websites have increased markedly, said Liu Zhengrong. The number of reports increased to around 1,000, from the previous 300. He stressed that many netizens proposed that the government should encourage people to use their real names on the Internet, improve measures to avoid Internet addiction, promote filter software and enhance the legal system.

In 2004, Chinese government kicked off a massive campaign to weed out pornography from the rapidly-growing Internet.

In 2005, 11 people were jailed for up to 12 years for running an obscene website in China's largest case of Internet pornography. The website operators of the 99 Sex Forum were accused of posting pornographic pictures, videos and stories, and even opening chatrooms providing information on prostitution throughout China.

(Xinhua News Agency April 23, 2006)

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