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China bans online mafia games
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China's Ministry of Culture has prohibited websites from running, publishing or offering links to online games featuring mafia-like gangs, and threatened "severe punishment" for those who violate the ban.

Such games violated regulations on Internet administration, because they "advocate obscenity, gambling, or violence," and "undermine morality and Chinese traditional culture," said a circular posted on the ministry's website on Monday.

Some popular online games with the themes of "mafia" or "godfather" were running on some websites, where players took the roles of killers and gangsters, according to the circular.

"These games encourage people to deceive, loot and kill, and glorify gangster life. They are a bad influence on youngsters," it read.

Internet operators should immediately stop running, promoting or offering links to the illegal games, it said.

The ministry ordered its law enforcement bodies to step up oversight and harshly punish those sites that continued to run such games.

As of Tuesday, many websites offering such games had stopped them. Blocked games included "Godfather" on www.kaixin.com, "Jianghu" (meaning "gangster community") on www.mop.com, and "Guhuozai" ("young and dangerous guys") on www.xiaonei.com.

Mafia-theme games were actually a "violent culture" that could easily lead to crime, columnist Qiao Zhifeng wrote in Tuesday's Procuratorial Daily.

Many Internet users expressed anger as the games disappeared suddenly. "It's totally irresponsible!" said a posting by "I'm Laoxie".

A person with the Internet ID number 122.159.233 said: "I just stole 3 million yuan in the game when the website suddenly went blank. I just can't take it!"

Another with the number 222.133.174 said: "I really felt like our gang was disbanded."

(Xinhua News Agency July 28, 2009)

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