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Internet Cafes in Beijing Under Scrutiny
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Beijing has started a three-month campaign to scrutinize the city's 1,007 licensed Internet cafes.

The aim of the campaign is to get cyber cafes to run in an orderly manner by severely punishing illegal operators, the Beijing Times reported yesterday.

Back in 2004, the country also launched a nationwide campaign to rectify Internet cafes breaking government rules by shutting down 50,000 cyber cafes operating without a license.

However, according to a recent report from the China Radio International, the malpractice of illegal cyber cafes in urban suburbs, small towns and the countryside remains a problem.

The paper said the drive, started on Wednesday by the city's bureaus of culture, public security, industry and commerce, mainly targets those bars breaking government rules on Internet management and admitting minors, a rising concern in the Chinese capital recently.

There are about 4 million Internet surfers in Beijing, or almost one in every three residents, the daily paper said.

Once found breaking government rules, the paper noted, Internet cafes will face three types of punishment.

A cyber cafe which admits minors twice or three minors at one time will be ordered to stop business for two weeks while a cafe that permits eight minors at one time or allows minors in twice will have its business license revoked.

Meanwhile, those Internet cafes breaking government rules or running without a business license will be made public through the media, the Beijing Times said.

Currently, the city requires cyber cafe operators to register the identity of users in order to forbid minors coming for a visit and to filter unhealthy web content.

The city's authorities have opened a round-the-clock hotline 12318 to receive public reports, the paper said, noting that people offering tips will be rewarded.

The State Information Development Strategy (2006-20), which was published on Monday by the General Office of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the General Office of the State Council, has called for enhancing the country's capability of applying information technology among the public.

According to the document, there are now about 670,000 websites on the Chinese mainland with some 103 million net surfers.

According to a report yesterday in the Beijing-based daily newspaper The First, the north China municipality intends to "completely wipe out" the rampant malpractice among the city's Internet cafes, especially the practice of running without a license and admitting minors.

(China Daily May 12, 2006)

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