China launches crackdown on online gaming

(AFP)

China has launched a campaign to crack down on online games operating illegally and featuring content deemed to be unhealthy, state media reported Friday, in the nation's latest Internet clean-up effort.

The crackdown has so far led to the shutdown of 45 online games, which authorities said encouraged players to engage in illegal activities such as drug trafficking and prostitution, the Beijing News said.

"The General Administration of Press and Publication is to undergo a thorough clear-up relating to the approval and operating situation of online games by the end of the year," the report said.

A statement posted on the administration's website said the 45 online games that were shut down were run from abroad and had not received prior approval to operate in China.

So far, more than 200 online games had been investigated as part of the campaign, launched to coincide with communist China's 60th birthday on October 1, and some were given deadlines to change their ways, the notice said.

China regularly cracks down on online content it deems unhealthy, which includes pornography and violence but also information critical of the government.

Last month, authorities announced that all songs posted on music websites must receive prior approval and foreign lyrics must be translated into Chinese.

In June, the government was forced to backtrack on an order to install Internet filtering software on all computers sold in China after it triggered a huge outcry at home and abroad.

China has at least 338 million Internet users, more than any other country in the world, according to state media.

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