New Times,
New Thinking.

6 March 2007

China’s convenient Internet addiction

By Mike Butcher

China has decided today to put a cap on the opening of internet cafes to open this year on the basis that its citizens are becoming internet ‘addicts’. It’s appropriate then that a country oft feted by the developed West for marching towards “liberal capitalism” is marked out by Amnesty’s campaign (nominated for an NMA award) which names China as being one of those countries that limits access to the Internet, and even online content, as a method of repression. There are currently about 113,000 internet cafes and bars in China. The number of people using the internet in China has grown by 30% over the last year to 132 million and will surpass the US online population in the next two years. Many Internet cafes are subject to random fires, which the authorities usually put down to bad fire safety, and not at all to any official intervention. Oh no. Perhaps it’s also appropriate that the Chinese government is blaming the rise of online gambling on this new move, just as the UK embarks on a leap into the dark of super casino’s, but perhaps we’ll leave the New Statesman proper to tackle that thorny subject…

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