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Largest Pornographic Website Goes on Trial
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A trial involving China's largest pornographic website, which boasted more than 600,000 registered members, began on Wednesday.

Nine creators and organizers of the website, Qingseliuyuetian, meaning "pornographic summer", are being sued at the Taiyuan Intermediate People's Court, in north China's Shanxi Province.

Apart from one culprit aged over 50, the average age of the other eight suspects stands at 23.

A member of the public complained to city police on June 21 last year that a hospital website had changed to become the homepage of a porn website. This kick-started a police search which culminated in the discovery and arrest of website administrator, Wang Jianfei, who admitted under interrogation that he was in charge of Qingseliuyuetian's Taiyuan section.

Three months later, police in Fujian, Guangdong, Jilin, Liaoning, Anhui and Hubei provinces arrested Chen Hui, creator of the website, and other organizers.

Chen is alleged to have confessed that the site opened in May 2004 and claimed to be "the largest Chinese adult community".

All the website's servers were based overseas, enabling it to avoid detection, and Chen regularly changed the website's domain name, servers and IP address, the police said.

Chen and his partners are accused of renting ten servers in the United States last July and opening another three porn websites.

At first the four websites accepted about 200,000 registered members free of charge, but demanded 199 to 266 yuan (US$25 to 33) in registration fees from later applicants.

Some people paid more for a life membership of the website. According to the police, a "top-level VIP membership" was sold at 3,999 yuan (US$500). At the same time, commercial space on the website sold for 1,000 to 3,000 yuan (US$125 to 375) per month.

On Oct. 3 last year, when the website was closed down, registered members exceeded 600,000 around China. The online repository contained nine million pornographic images and articles and had received more than 11 million hits.

The police said it was difficult to ascertain the website's precise illegal profits since most of the money was spent or saved in Chen's and his partners' foreign bank accounts.

The police only found around 200,000 yuan (US$25,000) in the men's Chinese accounts.

(Xinhua News Agency September 1, 2006)

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