China: July 19, 2001


Internet cafes have become enormously popular in China, especially among teenagers and young working people who cannot afford a computer and internet account. There are now nearly 27 million internet users in China, and many obtain access though some 60,000 internet cafes. Parents have complained that their children spend hours hanging out at the internet cafes. The government is concerned about the unauthorized spread of information among the young. But there is also the money, as many of the internet cafes are not registered and don't pay taxes. The government recently inspected all the internet cafes it could find (56,800) and shut down 2,000 of them (and demanded another 6,000 clean up their act.) Trying to shut down all internet cafes would cause popular unrest, even though some hard line members of the government would like to do just that. 


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