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Chinese Force Mass Closure Of Net Cafes 497

Posted by Hemos
from the need-to-guard-rights dept.
Chien Andalusia writes "According to this article from the BBC, the Chinese authorities closed 12,575 net cafes towards the end of 2004. Due to the expense of computer hardware, net cafés have become very popular in China in recent years. The laws governing such cafés are very strict, especially in relation to minimising the amount of exposure children can get to the internet. For example, no net café is allowed to open within 200 metres of a middle or elementary school. The article also briefly discusses other restrictions imposed on Chinese net cafés."
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Chinese Force Mass Closure Of Net Cafes

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  • by justkarl (775856) on Monday February 14, 2005 @10:12AM (#11666969) Homepage
    Nothing for you to see here. Please move along.

    Probably what the Chinese gov't had to say, too...
  • by schestowitz (843559) on Monday February 14, 2005 @10:12AM (#11666972) Homepage Journal
    Serve alcohol at the Inertnet cafe and the problem is solved. No controversy either
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 14, 2005 @10:15AM (#11667002)
      Serve pot and they don't even need Internet access. They'll just sit quietly grooving to the screen saver.
    • Like in Indiana (Score:3, Interesting)

      by suso (153703)
      For example, no net café is allowed to open within 200 metres of a middle or elementary school.

      That's kinda like in Indiana how there is a law that says you can't sell alcohol within 150 feet of a church.

      I worked at a grocery store once that couldn't sell it because of that silly law.
    • by gstoddart (321705) on Monday February 14, 2005 @11:39AM (#11667884) Homepage
      Serve alcohol at the Inertnet cafe and the problem is solved. No controversy either


      Oh, sure. Cause what we really need is a half a billion or so more drunk people surfing the web and posting stuff on Slashdot. :-P

  • by cyberfunk2 (656339) on Monday February 14, 2005 @10:13AM (#11666975)
    I suppose it's only a matter of time til the chinese government learns what most people already know. If more than a few people know a piece of information, then it's pretty hopeless to try to contain it.

    Now if only the RIAA/MPAA would learn this lesson.
    • by luvirini (753157) on Monday February 14, 2005 @10:16AM (#11667012)
      Well the point of the restrictions is not really to stop those who do their best to circumvent things. Instead the point is to keep the public at large ignorant. Every society will have it's dissidents, but it is only when a significant proportion of people get dissident that real problems occur for those ruling. That is what the government tries to stop.
      • by cyberfunk2 (656339) on Monday February 14, 2005 @10:24AM (#11667095)
        Right, and what I'm saying, is that once the info's out there, and as long as it's got a important enough value to the people, it's likely to get to them one way or another.

        For instance, don't you think they realize on some level whats REALLY going on, i.e. they're being censored. Upon discovering that, I'd be inheriently curious.. what exactly is it they're protecting me from? And lo, the ball and started rolling...
        • by luvirini (753157) on Monday February 14, 2005 @10:28AM (#11667122)
          Yes, but slashdot crowd is hardly your average person on the street. Go ask a a few people on the street some questions about the world, I suggest subjects such as the cosolidation of media, to see how much people on average think about the dangers to free speech.
        • by saider (177166) on Monday February 14, 2005 @12:19PM (#11668341)
          Upon discovering that, I'd be inheriently curious.. what exactly is it they're protecting me from?

          Because our society values the freedom to make your own decisions. That's why there's a stink everytime the gov't tries to restrict our expressions.

          In China and other places, the people are brought up believing in the Government as a protector, as a father. Since there is little to contradict this, they believe that the government is acting in their best interests when it tells them not to do something. Because of their lifelong conditioning, they accept this fact and move on with their lives.

          This is how humans in general operate, and because we are conditioned differently in the West, we have a different response to and view of our governments. North Korea is another example of this. There was a show on PBS showing the horrific conditions in the country. The only reason they put up with it is because they honestly feel that South Korea and their imperialist allies will kill each and every one of them. They are in a completely different reality.
          • Alas, you are right. They do live in somewhat of a different reality than we do, which I do believe is quite unfortunate.

            I just wish there was a way to "un-program" them. Of course, from their point of view, this would be "capatalist brainwashing". I'd like to think that we're on the right side of things.. but how can we know ?
            • Exactly... who are we to say our values--freedom of expression, questioning authority, democracy, capitalism--are inherently better than theirs? I know where I'd rather live, but that doesn't give me the right to preach to them about the way they live. (Excepting those who wish they lived in a more open society, of whom China has many, as we do here in the Western world.)

              Of course, it's misguided to imagine that people starving in North Korea, say, or jailed for political dissidence in Zimbabwe, are doing
              • There is nothing wrong with preaching to governments that they are not according their people sufficient rights. A lot of people talk about "self-determination," by which they mean that governments themselves should be allowed to dictate how people live with absolute impunity. I would prefer a world where "self-determination" means that the people themselves can choose how to live, and if that means denouncing a government for their oppressive actions, so be it. Freedom is almost tautologically better than
        • by Znork (31774) on Monday February 14, 2005 @12:34PM (#11668509)
          For every person exposing the truth, hire ten to malign him, change the issue, confuse the facts, misrepresent his views, misrepresent your views and outright lie and threaten.

          I've realized that I'm being manipulated every day, and I live in a western democracy. Do you know how very difficult it is to discern who is manipulating you in what way, and how they in turn have been manipulated? Do you understand how difficult it is when you cannot even trust your own mind and language, as you will find your very instincts erraneous and the very language biased?

          In your average newspaper and newscast it's almost impossible to find a single unbiased and non-propagandistic article. They're as rare as factually correct articles, and often the two go hand in hand. As journalists no longer appear to have the time, and few the integrity, try to do the factchecking yourself, and trace interests and bias in the article, and compare between different ones.

          It's not that the average person cant form an opinion, understand a problem or draw conclusions from the facts. It's that the average person does not have the time, inclination or opportunity to double-check and cross-reference every fact and opinion they hear and question every belief and opinion they have once they discover inconsistencies. It's not very rewarding or conductive to living a happy life.

          Propaganda works. And you, I and the Chinese get tricked every day.

          What exactly are they protecting you from?
          • In your average newspaper and newscast it's almost impossible to find a single unbiased and non-propagandistic article. They're as rare as factually correct articles, and often the two go hand in hand. As journalists no longer appear to have the time, and few the integrity, try to do the factchecking yourself, and trace interests and bias in the article, and compare between different ones.

            For a scholarly look at this issue read Edward Herman & Noam Chomsky's Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media [amazon.com]. In it they describe in detail many, many examples how "the powers that be" in the U.S. of A. have used the structure of the mass media to distort the world view of the citizens of this [USA] country.

            What exactly are they protecting you from?

            As far as I can tell, the nature of Power is such that for the most part, those with it want to keep it. Additionally, money and influence are both part of and equivalent to Power. With [enough] money you can buy influence and with [enough] influence you can obtain money. In order to retain Power those with it must ensure not that the populace is well off, but that they are content enough that they do not rebel or otherwise try to overthrow those in Power.

            As much as the United States is a democracy, true democracy (in which all have a generally equal say) is impossible if there is a large concentration of Power (money and/or influence). If Power is not [relatively] evenly spread, then those with it can get a larger say by either force or by manipulating those without Power into agreeing with them.

            So, what exactly are they protecting you from? In general, feelings of dissatisfaction with the state of your world (as it reflects on them) and your place in it. This manipulation can come in many forms, but several common ones that are repeated over and over are:

            - Enemies: Enemies focus attention away from domestic problems to external entities, as well as providing a framework for "Be happy, at least you aren't in xxxxxx" comments.

            - "Mindless" Entertainment: The more entertained you are, the less likely you are to rebel. "The Matrix" is an extreme example of this.

            - Playing on dreams: The "American Dream" is partially summarized as the opportunity of anyone who "works hard enough" to climb the economic and social ladders. In the current day and age (as well as many past) this is no more true than elsewhere in the world. A very few people truly go from "rags to riches" while the rest of us stay plus or minus a few degrees from the place where we were born. The promise of the "American Dream" is repeated so often though that most people take it to be truth, thereby voting for tax cuts for the rich on the belief that they will soon be rich too.

            These and other tools can and are used by those with Power to protect the rest of us from the harsh truth that we are being cheated and our situation would be better if those with Power didn't have it.
        • Right, and what I'm saying, is that once the info's out there, and as long as it's got a important enough value to the people, it's likely to get to them one way or another.

          I used to believe that.

          Now I no longer do.

          There is all kinds of information on the Bush administration that people, including those that served in his first administration, were desperate to get out to the American public, including specifics on his incompetence with respect to guarding against terror, the war on terror, the misinfor
          • I would suppose that has more to do with mass psychology rather than the info not being out there. It's been proven time and time again (with some spectacular failures that took a whole lot of life with them) through the history of time that humans will believe whoever believes in their purpose the most.

            I think it has something to do with people basically being terrified of the unknown and the uncertainty in life. This is why we have constructs like Religion, its all just coping mechanisms.

            The danger is w
      • by quarkscat (697644) on Monday February 14, 2005 @10:44AM (#11667308)
        No doubt this is the PRC's way of limiting
        the number of dissidents it will have to
        arrest. You can't expect their government to
        build hundreds of new prisons without having
        new labor contracts already signed by Western
        corporations. The PRC government does have
        rudimentary knowledge about supply and demand,
        and staying in the "sweet spot" for labor costs.
    • by ScentCone (795499) on Monday February 14, 2005 @10:25AM (#11667100)
      Now if only the RIAA/MPAA would learn this lesson.

      Must even the most un-related news items be somehow tortured into a reason to self-proclaim one's rights to an artist's work, unpaid-for? Some Chinese citizen sitting in a net cafe "knowing" the news is not the same as you sitting in your living room "knowing" the latest Green Day CD without paying for it.
      • Well in general you do have to remember that RIAA is not an organisation for artists rights, it is an organisation for the record companies rights. The difference is huge.
      • Depends. I'm sure the chinese government would like to censor music too, ever hear of their cultural revolution?

        Or maybe when the news itself is copyrighted, and they start using copyright as a tool of censorship, then you'll reconsider? It's all just bits and bytes. Arbitrarily deciding that some arrangements of 1s and 0s is music that should land you in jail if you copy it, but that another is current news that it's immoral to censor is somewhat dumb.
        • Arbitrarily deciding that some arrangements of 1s and 0s is music that should land you in jail if you copy it, but that another is current news that it's immoral to censor is somewhat dumb. Is it really? Let's try applying your argument to the real, tangible world. Would you argue that taking a TV from Best Buy without paying for it is NOT stealing, because a TV is just a different arrangement of particles than air, which is free for all?
        • Or maybe when the news itself is copyrighted, and they start using copyright as a tool of censorship, then you'll reconsider? It's all just bits and bytes. Arbitrarily deciding that some arrangements of 1s and 0s is music that should land you in jail if you copy it, but that another is current news that it's immoral to censor is somewhat dumb.

          While some may agree with your premise, your argument is bad. Apply the same logic to some other thing. Say pictures. Why are some pictures like pornography cens
      • so limitting free cultural exchange is good, but limitting free speech is bad?

        both are important, and both should be legal.
        • by ScentCone (795499) on Monday February 14, 2005 @11:46AM (#11667957)
          so limitting free cultural exchange is good, but limitting free speech is bad?

          both are important, and both should be legal.


          Well, sure. But when an artist chooses to sell their work, and someone else chooses to find a way to get it without paying for it, that's not a freedom of speech issue. That's about people wanting the work that the artist produces, and not wanting to pay for it.
    • This has nothing to do with "Freedom of speech", or should I say, the intention of it is to prevent kids from spending too much of their spare time on those cafes playing game. If anyone has been to such cafe in China would know there are almost NO adults in these cafe except young kids. And as a matter of fact, they are playing games instead of "Freedom of speech".
      If there would be "speech" during the course, its just someone looking for ONS, instead of the "POLITICAL FREEDOM OF SPEECH". Most adult will us
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Sorry for pool english.

      Net cafes in China are mostly **GAME** cafes. that's why there is a restriction that no net café is allowed to open within 200 metres of a middle or elementary school.

      In June 2002, a net cafe in Beijing is burned by 3 middle school students for game playing conflicts, 25 people died.

      I just wish you guys to know that closing net cafes has nothing to do with free-speech or free information or other free shits.

      I just hate the blind prejudice and stupid arrogant expressed by some
    • It's interesting to see the comments here - everybody is so wise and knowledgable as to what the motives of the Chinese government are. And of course 'they are only out to cut off people's access to the hugely important information on the internet'. We all know that, don't we? Because they are evil communists; I mean that's EVIL, right?

      Don't you think the Chinese government already know that they can't keep easily accessible information away from people? These people are clever - they are after all bringin
  • Yay communism (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nastard (124180) on Monday February 14, 2005 @10:13AM (#11666978)
    Because it's important that we limit, as much as is possible, our children's exposure to information, education, technology, or anything else that might shape them into better, more productive members of society.

    China: The Biggest Red State.
    • Re:Yay communism (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dave420 (699308)
      You're confusing the Chinese government with Communism here. What's happening in China isn't due to Communism, but the powers that be in China, and their specific doctrine.
      • Re:Yay communism (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mosb1000 (710161)
        That's a true statement. Communism does not, in theory, require censoring information, oppressing people, and opposing all change and progress. But for some reason, whenever and wherever it has been implemented, it has involved these things.

        Perhaps it's because the rigid top-down political structure that always seems to accompany it lends itself to these kind of abuses. Perhaps it's that people who implement communism feel that the common man is too stupid to be trusted, and must be censured and control
        • I think it's more to do with human nature. Communism, to survive, needs people acting together for the common good. When one person in a communist group acts with their own interests first, communism stops working so well. I imagine they need to control these people to ensure the true communist behaviour, or at least as they see it.

          Communism, when practiced properly, can be pretty cool. I'm more of a socialist, though ;)

        • Just had a follow-up to my previous thought:

          Maybe it's because the only "Communist" states we see are also totalitarian regimes? I think if you look at ALL totalitarian regimes throughout history, you'll see censorship being the most common trait. It even extends to the current US administration (they use censorship quite often, the most high-profile use in recent years was the "no coffins" rule from the Pentagon).

          So, I think censorship is more of a totalitarian trait than a communist one.

      • Re:Yay communism (Score:5, Insightful)

        by jc42 (318812) on Monday February 14, 2005 @11:18AM (#11667668) Homepage Journal
        Indeed; Communism is thoroughly dead in China. The current ruling gang apparently doesn't even give it lip service any more. Many writers with a bit of historical knowledge have commented that China is again ruled by mandarins, though they may not use that term.

        It is impressive how long rhetorical terms can last. Thus, Communism died in the old USSR when Stalin took power and became in all but name a new tsar. But Western propagandists still used that country as an example of Communism 50 years later, despite all the objections that the term no longer applied in any meaningful fashion.

        It's likely that 50 years from now, Western politicos will still be using China as an example of Communism, in their attempts to extend the old Communist/Capitalist false dichotomy.

        It's really just a way of blindly using code words to avoid at reality. A reasonable approach would be to simply treat terms like "Communist", "Capitalist", etc. as symptoms of writing without much thought or understanding. It's hardly worth debating when such terms appear, since (as a form of Godwin's observation) such terms usually mean that no reasonable discussion will be possible. In American politics, the terms "Liberal" and "Conservative" have come to have the same import.

        OTOH, if someone refers to events in China as "Chinese", reasonable discussion of events there might be possible. The current rulers of China aren't beholden to any outside ideology; they are their own people, with their own ideas and goals. Understanding will come from talking about them as they are, not by describing them with foreign words that don't apply very well.

        • by DesScorp (410532) <DesScorp@NOsPam.Gmail.com> on Monday February 14, 2005 @01:41PM (#11669176) Homepage Journal
          " Indeed; Communism is thoroughly dead in China."

          Some aspects of it are.

          "The current ruling gang apparently doesn't even give it lip service any more."

          They give it A LOT of lip service. It's still in all of the major speeches during national holidays.

          "Thus, Communism died in the old USSR when Stalin took power and became in all but name a new tsar."

          That's news to Nikita Kruschev, who was essentially replaced by commitee. No one even knew who the "one guy" in charge was for a couple of years after his removal. Eventually, it was discovered that the Central Commitee picked Leonid Breznhev as the General Secretary. The party regained control after the death of Stalin, and stayed in control until Gorbachev. The attempted coup was BY the major powers of the party. So please don't pretend that communism never existed after Stalin. For all of the evil of that system, the party did pick leadership in an orderly fashion after that.

          "...the old Communist/Capitalist false dichotomy."

          If you REALLY think there's no difference between capitalism and Soviet style communism, then no rational words are going to sway you.

          "...not by describing them with foreign words that don't apply very well."

          When they stop calling themselves communists, then maybe we will too. Again, the Chinese leadership still embraces the Marxist/Maoist imagery and speech, voluntarily. No one from the West forced it on them, so please stop acting like we are doing just that. THEY (the governement) identify themselves as communist.

          BTW, there ARE still true believers in power in China, many in the military. They don't like the trappings of a market economy, but they do like the money it brings in to pay for planes, tanks, missles, ships, and now, the space program.

    • Yay capitalism (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Dogtanian (588974)
      China: The Biggest Red State

      If China ever was truly communist (which I doubt), it sure as hell ain't now.

      As someone said, when they embraced capitalism, China went from being one of the last major left-wing dictatorships to being one of the last major right-wing dictatorships.

      Which doesn't necessarily make them any more free.

      It's all bullcrap anyway; the supposedly left-wing North Korea is run in a pseudo-monarchistic manner by Kim Jong-Il, who took over from his father. This is about as un-left wi
    • Re:Yay communism (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jc42 (318812)
      it's important that we limit, as much as is possible, our children's exposure to information, education, ...

      Of course. And, as here in the US, attempts to block children's exposure to the Internet will have a valuable effect: It tells the children where the forbidden knowledge is to be found. Those who want to learn will know where to look. And the next generation will be fluent users of the Internet.

      That's what we want, of course. So we should applaud all such attempts to block children's access to
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 14, 2005 @10:14AM (#11666993)
    By expanding "free trade agreements" and raising the H1-B quota !!!
  • This just in... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gowen (141411) <gwowen@gmail.com> on Monday February 14, 2005 @10:18AM (#11667026) Homepage Journal
    Chinese government restrictive, controlling bastards. But given the Great Leap Forwards, assorted purges on intellectuals, the show trials, the widespread censorship, the repression of Tibet and the Tiananmen Square Massacre, did we not know this already?

    So, why is this news?
    • Re:This just in... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by dustmite (667870) on Monday February 14, 2005 @11:13AM (#11667629)

      You're right, human rights abuses are only interesting when it's new/exciting information .. because it's not about the information, it's all about the topical buzz, the fashionable memes, yeah man. I mean who wants to discuss China's ongoing human rights abuses, that's like sooo yesterday already! What's "cool" today?

  • Uh huh... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by UnRDJ (712762) on Monday February 14, 2005 @10:20AM (#11667049)
    In other news, the Chinese goverment are a bunch of commie bastards, SCO are liars, and Microsoft has a monopoly on the desktop market. Seriously though, this kind of reporting is good. People tend to forget about this kind of stuff unless they're frequently reminded.
  • by DesScorp (410532) <DesScorp@NOsPam.Gmail.com> on Monday February 14, 2005 @10:23AM (#11667076) Homepage Journal
    China, for all the hype about markets opening up their society, is still a totalitarian communist country. I'm not surprised that they've cracked down on the cafes; I'm surprised they exist at all.
  • by Dracolytch (714699) on Monday February 14, 2005 @10:27AM (#11667115) Homepage
    We will impose our elitist totolitarian regime on you because of the Children! Won't you think of the children? (Thud) How about now? (Whap) Now? Good!

    ~D
    • heh

      Obviously, the communist Chinese government does not believe that parents should have the sole responsibility of regulating their children's use of the Internet.

      Kinda like gaming here.
  • We all hate what the Chinese government are doing to their population, but all you admins out there, think about it. Their censorship technology is the best in the world, and it would improve production if it was implemented in USA companies. How would it improve production you ask? It will, for example, keep people from reading Slashdot all day.
    • Your workforce is not cattle. Don't treat them as such ( note: I'm not happy with how we treat cattle either ). I give my employees their taskes, they finish them to the best of their ability. I don't care how, as long as it's done by the deadline, everyone is happy. They can fuck around on slashdot for the entire week, as long as that report is on my desk by friday 5pm, they are gold.
    • It backfires! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Loundry (4143)
      Their censorship technology is the best in the world, and it would improve production if it was implemented in USA companies. How would it improve production you ask? It will, for example, keep people from reading Slashdot all day.

      There is a psychological phenomenon in humans that control-freaks consistenly forget. Anything that you deny to a human appears more desirable to that human. If you say, "You can't do that," then the person being addressed will tend to want to do it *more*, not *less*.

      For exa
  • by stm2 (141831) <sbassi@genesdigi ... Ecom minus berry> on Monday February 14, 2005 @10:36AM (#11667203) Homepage Journal
    At least the ban for inet cafe close to elementary school. In Argentina we have a similar situation, there are a lot of inet cafes because hardware is very expensive since peso devaluation and Internet conection is also expensive. Most inet cafes are used to chat using MSN and IRC and playing FPSMPG (like Counter Strike), so boys hang around for hours there instead of studying. It is very cheap, because there are a lot of inet cafes, it cost about 0.35$/hour, that is cheap even for us. Boys mostly plays and some MSN, and girls go just to chat via MSN.
    I am giving a basic computer course in an elementary school (9 to 12 years old) and they are asking me to teach them just to chat, even before learning how to type!
    • The thing is, though, that every one here had an experience like that.... either through the local Arcade (trips to the mall!!! YAY!) or on their new Nintendo Entertainment System...

      My parents regretted buying that thing for me for Christmas... But I think I turned out O.K. Just took the slipping of some grades to show me that I couldn't just veg out in front of it and ignore my other responsibilities... (Yes, my parents "attempted" to limit my time on it, so it wasn't their fault....)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 14, 2005 @10:36AM (#11667206)
    I was in Beijing last summer, and the one thing that struck me was how our American media promotes an image of an evil tyranny in China. (While it is true that most freedoms - as we know them here - don't exist, it isn't the spawn of evil its made out to be.)

    I had no problems accessing the Net from my hotel - albeit an intl. dialup connection - and even visited a few Net cafes. Most people I spoke to said the Internet was great but that we Americans don't realize that what we may want or consider a "great freedom" here in the US is not considered as important in the rest of the world. (Alright before you start going berserk and start spewing off about basic human rights, consider that we have made many, many mistakes in the past and it took us time as well to reach a state where we consider these freedoms as our rights; give 'em time!)

    Anyway, my point being, Internet was completely accessible except for a few sites that seemed to be proxied out at the Net cafes - Slashdot being one of them! ;)
    • Indeed. It's not that China is an evil tyranny and America is a glorious bastion of freedom, it's that both are authoritarian states which choose to control and limit _different_ aspects of freedom.

      China, for example, has a lot more economic freedom than America (most obviously, I believe the top income tax rate is only 15%), but less freedom of speech (though, today, that difference is rapidly decreasing).
  • by Gannoc (210256) on Monday February 14, 2005 @10:40AM (#11667264)
    Wow, the people in power don't like something and want to see it censored or banned.

    So, to try and convince the public, they announce that the thing that THEY don't like is dangerous for children...

    THEN, once you've established that it is bad for children, you can get rid of it altogether in the name of protecting children!

    I'm glad that would never happen here!

  • by MrLint (519792) on Monday February 14, 2005 @10:42AM (#11667284) Journal
    Its a good thing those cafes are 200m away. This is sure to be too far a walk for the chinese computer CHUDs the internet will surely spawn:)
  • by NardofDoom (821951) on Monday February 14, 2005 @10:44AM (#11667310)
    I sure am glad we've granted them most favored nation trading status and are giving them all our money and selling them all our debt!

    Because we love freedom!

  • China (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Council (514577)
    We think it's so easy to change a culture just by handing them the tools to do it. Sure, something will happen, and it might even be roughly what we expect, but I submit that the majority of people here sitting at their computers cheerful advocating the overturning of an entire governmental system and associated culture have . . . really no clue what they're dealing with.

    I truly believe that education is the silver bullet, that information and communication are what will lift the human race to heights und
  • by Zocalo (252965) on Monday February 14, 2005 @10:47AM (#11667338) Homepage
    I'm sure we're going to get the usual "Chinese and enforced censorship" spiel here, but taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture what they Chinese have done is quite reasonable for their claimed goals. The Chinese government publishes a list of regulations for operating a Cybercafé, admittedly a strict list, but it's there, it's the law and you break it at your peril.

    The main causes given for the closures is locating a Cybercafé right next to a school and allowing minors free access to pornography. What chance do you think a Cybercafé would have to continue trading in the EU, US etc. if it was found to be a magnet for truants and/or providing unfettered access to pornography to minors? They also restrict violent games to certain age groups, which is different to the age requirements we have on our computer game boxes, how exactly? Doom 3 is rated "18" in the UK for example, and companies can be prosecuted for breaking that restriction and selling the game to a minor. The same goes for logging all outbound access - you'd be insane not to log everything if you were running a Cybercafé in the event someone launched a cracking attempt from your premises.

    OK, I do have concerns that these logs are going to be "auditted" by the Chinese government for what they might see as subversive elements, disloyal behaviour or whatever. The censorship of free access to information, even if it *is* pornography, should not be blocked - immoral and illegal should not automatically be the same thing. Still, at least the Chinese appear to understand that restricting Internet content is an internal matter and are making an effort to deal with it themselves instead of trying to ram their legislation down the throats of other nations. Now if only they would let their people have a larger say in what was and was not permitted...

  • by everex (752161) on Monday February 14, 2005 @11:09AM (#11667573)
    Becuase of the difference in cultural, you American sometimes cannot understand Chinese people. Something we think normal you think crazy. The reason to restrict build net cafe 200m away from school is that too many kids go to net cafes after school and spend too much time on computer games or internet surfing. Many parents complain about this. Another reason for closure is the porngraphy information. Viewing and keeping these pictures on pulic machines is prohibited in China. This is the same in pulic libraries in US.
  • by LittleStone (18310) on Monday February 14, 2005 @11:13AM (#11667632) Homepage Journal
    A lot of these net cafe are poorly constructed without proper safety facilities. A fire swept through an illegal net bar killing 24 and sending another 13 to hospital in 2002.

    http://www.edu.cn/20020618/3059163.shtml

    Not many businesses in China respect the safety standards that the western world take for granted. There are many ways, including bridery, to get around the safety inspections. So occasionally the government has to do some massive crack down. For one, to try to control the internet to please the critics in the communist party. Also, nobody would bride the safety inspectors if the government does not show that they are serious about the safety standards. A few weeks later these net cafe would be re-opened. And everything goes back to business as usual.

    Content censoring is always there. But that's not the only reason they close down these net cafe. Money is the reason.
  • by presarioD (771260) on Monday February 14, 2005 @12:11PM (#11668257)


    In communist China you have to ask permission for your basic rights... (and have them refused of course...)

    In capitalist US you have to pay for your rights... (again and again and again...)
  • by egy (764367) on Monday February 14, 2005 @01:16PM (#11668904)
    I think it just too hard for us to understand china people. They have totally different culture from european/american, so they care more about where to get food than of human rights or freedom.

    I am from Ukraine, and in November, when it was Orange Revolution here in Ukraine, I've read various people comments on bbc.com on that topic (our revolution). While most comments were positive, I remember one comment from china's women; she was very negative and said that people should better care about other things as food, money and such.

    May be for china people it's acceptable that your goverment are gangsters and thiefs as long as they give you enouth food. For me, it isn't.

    PS. Sorry for my bad English.

  • by PsiPsiStar (95676) on Monday February 14, 2005 @01:26PM (#11668994)
    I was in China not too long ago (2003 - beginning of 2004) and teaching English. One thing that was interesting was the stuff that I heard about Falun Gong. How supposedly people from Falun Gong had poisoned local beggars, it was a cult.

    In the states, you never hear these rationales for the crackdowns against Falun Gong. They're not even brough up to be discredited, which makes me wonder if they're true or not?

    More to the point, is the American gov't not explaining China's good reasons for cracking down on Falun Gong so that it keeps their citizens feeling superior to the Chineese? "Oh, we have religious freedom and they don't" etc. When the worst abuses against religion happened during the Cultural revolution, or currently against those religious groups with separatist ambitions (or who just don't want their land exploited by the influx of the ethnic Han majority) such as some Muslims in Xinjiang, Buddists in Tibet, etc.

    A while ago, there was the whole issue of the Chinese embassy bombing in Belgrade by accident.

    The Chinese line was that it was deliberate and pointless. The American line was that it was an accident. The London guardian at one point ran a piece on how the Chinese embassy had been quite likely rebroadcasting radio signals from Serb forces [guardian.co.uk] in violation of the laws governing embassies (neutrality) and how the bombing run that hit the embassy was the only one which didn't go through the NATO chain of command, but came directly from the CIA.

    And how much did we in the states hear about this second, more likely explanation?

    There were a few internet sites blocked in China. And it was hard to tell which ones were deliberate and which ones were accidental since there seemed to be very little set policy on the matter. China may censor, but it seems to lack the rigid efficiency and formality that one imagines when they think of the USSR or Nazi Germany. The place is anarchy and clannish with an authoritarian frosting. Things like the status and power of your family, and which powerful people you have pissed off and how respectfully you criticize power have a huge amount to do with what you can get away with.

    The cultural revolution is over. The boys in power in China are mainly concerned with protecting their power and sometimes increasing it.

    And despite the attempt at censorship, there was a lot of information about government corruption which managed to leak out anyways. (Chinese gov't billionaires, Political elite getting away with murder, etc. )

    If there's one thing I learned in China, it was how deftly the US government manages to control the information which reaches the majority of its citizens, despite the existance of a 'free press.'
    • by MightyMartian (840721) on Monday February 14, 2005 @02:04PM (#11669457) Journal
      > And despite the attempt at censorship, there was a
      > lot of information about government corruption
      > which managed to leak out anyways. (Chinese gov't
      > billionaires, Political elite getting away with
      > murder, etc. )

      It sounds just like old Imperial China. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

      > If there's one thing I learned in China, it was
      > how deftly the US government manages to control
      > the information which reaches the majority of
      > its citizens, despite the existance of a 'free
      > press.'

      WEll, I'll wager that the US's press is far more free than anything China's ever seen. For every news source that seems quite happy to tow the line (Fox News anyone), there are others that are eager to attack the government of the day on any issue.

      A free press isn't about excluding government propaganda, but rather about debunking it.

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