Report: China has closed 8,600 Internet cafes this year

China has closed 8,600 Internet cafes since February as part of an ongoing national campaign to clamp down on Internet cafes that violate government Internet regulations, according to a report by the official Xinhua news agency.

The Internet cafes were closed down because they were found to have illegally admitted juveniles, said the report, quoting Minister of Culture Sun Jianzheng.

In addition to the 8,600 Internet cafes that have already been closed, Sun said more Internet cafes needed to be clamped down on, according to the report, which noted the government crackdown is set to last through August. The campaign targets Internet cafes that admit juveniles, do not have the required licenses to operate and allow Internet users to access or spread "unhealthy information" over the Internet, it said.

To underscore the importance of the government's crackdown, the report cited a March 31 incident in the southwestern city of Chongqing, where two young students were killed by a train after they fell asleep on train tracks after spending 48 hours online in an unregistered Internet cafe.

Internet cafes are a popular way for many Chinese Internet users to get online, particularly among users who are not able to afford their own computers or Internet connections. The China Internet Network Information Center, which oversees the .cn country domain for China, estimates that 20.3 percent of China's 79.5 million Internet users access the Web by way of the Internet cafes, according to a report released in January.

In March, Reporters Without Borders, a watchdog organization based in Paris, reported that Chinese authorities were cracking down on Internet cafes that were not run by approved operators in a bid to track down political dissidents who were using the Internet. The group did not provide details of the crackdown.

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Sumner Lemon

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