China Continues to Shut Down Foreign Adult Sites

Rhett Pardon
BEIJING — In another wave of its massive campaign to censor the Internet, Chinese officials have shut down 700 online-adult sites in the last two weeks.

No details were given on the cases Tuesday, the official Xinhua News Agency said, but 224 suspects have been detained since July 16.

For months, China has attempted to block access to foreign sites deemed subversive or obscene. It has also imprisoned activists for posting political material online.

Since it publicized two telephone numbers and a website for people to report online-adult sites, the ministry has received 733 phone calls and 16,711 online tips.

Sites offering “pornographic activities online or organizing sex trade” were targeted, Xinhua said.

Government official Wu Mingshan told Xinhua that “a clean online environment'' has been established in major cities like Beijing and Shanghai, as well as Liaoning province in the northeast and Guangdong in the south.

The official also said that the Communist government will be targeting fraud and gambling in the future.

Meanwhile, Xinhua announced Tuesday that China's Internet population grew 28 percent over the past year to 87 million, while use of broadband and online commerce is soaring.

According to a survey froom the Network Information Center, more than half of Chinese Internet users plan to start shopping online in the coming year. The finding could give Internet retailers a morale boost as they struggle to fulfill early projections that China's 1.3 billion people would offer a huge online marketplace.

But growth of online commerce has been held back by China's lack of credit cards and poor delivery services, even though some entrepreneurs are developing new methods for online payment.

Despite the booming growth, China's online population is only 6.7 percent of the overall population, just over half the world average of 12 percent, Xinhua said.