Report: Crackdown closed 18,000 Internet cafes in China

A high-profile government crackdown on Internet cafes in China resulted in the temporary closure of 18,000 Internet cafes between February and August, but few cafes were closed permanently, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

The crackdown on Internet cafes that took place earlier this year was led by China's Ministry of Culture and was principally targeted at those cafes that illegally admitted juveniles, operated without a license, or allowed users to access or spread information deemed undesirable by authorities.

In their hunt for Internet cafes that were violating Chinese law, officials inspected 1.8 million [M] cafes, Xinhua reported, quoting a ministry official. Of that number, 18,000 Internet cafes were cited for violations and ordered to close their doors until the problems had been fixed. A smaller number of Internet cafes -- 1,600 -- were shut permanently by officials as part of the crackdown, it said.

Officials also levied fines totalling 100 million [M] renminbi (US$12.1 million [M]) on Internet cafes for allowing children to play violent computer games, Xinhua reported.

Internet cafes are a popular means of accessing the Internet in China. The China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) estimated in a July report that 22 percent of the China's 87 million [M] Internet users rely on Internet cafes as their primary means of getting online.

That percentage is up slightly since January, when CNNIC estimated that 20.3 percent of China's Internet users, which then totalled 79.5 million [M], relied on Internet cafes as their primary means of accessing the Internet.

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