PRAVDA.Ru correspondent in China Andrey Krushinsky reports:
Despite the calumny of evil-wishers who say that Chinese communists hamper the development of virtual communications, this very sphere is now experiencing rapid progress: the number of Internet reached 45.8 million by the end of June; thus, China is rated third after the USA and Japan.
When Internet-cafes, which number over 5,000 in Beijing only, were closed in China more than a month ago, the foreign media started attacking Chinese authorities. A fire at one Internet cafe killed 25 teenagers, which resulted in the closure of all Internet cafes. Now, the first thirty cafes have reopened work. Chinese mass media report that inspections held at Internet cafes for recommencement of their work include not only testing their fire prevention equipment. Henceforth, people under 18 are not allowed to work with computers, and smoking is prohibited in the Internet cafes that have already reopened. Some journalists disapprove of the prohibition against teenagers in the Internet cafes, because they consider Internet cafes a nice place for summer vacations. Moreover, such Internet cafes are often believed the only way to accustom children with no computers at home to the information technologies.
Beijing’s English-language newspaper China Daily writes that special Internet cafes for teenagers should be opened. The newspaper says: “The Internet is a double-edged sword. Indulgence in on-line games, violence, and porn certainly does more harm than good to children's growth.” Children isnthe special Internet cafes should be allowed access to appropriate material only.
Are Internet-cafes really very important in China? They evidently are, because, as reported by the China Daily, only 30% of families even in large cities can afford computers. However, some Chinese cities are rather progressive in this respect. According to the results of an opinion poll published at the beginning of July, 60% of Guangzhou families have computers and 15.3% of the questioned people surf the virtual space: 88% use the Internet at home; 25.4%, at work places; 6.3%, in schools; and only 3,2%, in Internet-cafes.
The China Internet Network Information Center recently held a press-conference, where director of the Center Mao Wei (namesake of China founder Mao Zedong) said that number of Internet users had increased in China by almost 12 million people over the past six months. It was added at that not only rich people use the Internet, because 37.8% of Internet users earn less than 500 yans ($60) a month.
Andrey Krushinsky PRAVDA.Ru Beijing
Translated by Maria Gousseva
Read the original in Russian: http://pravda.ru/main/2002/07/23/44561.html