Monday, October 27, 2003

Chilling effect alert!

No, it isn't some Hollyweirdo with a hangnail, it's China to consolidate Net cafes:
Nearly all of China's 110,000 Internet cafes will be consolidated under the management of larger, mainly state-owned companies in the next three years, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

The move aims to "regulate and standardize" the "fledgling and troublesome" cafe business, said the report.

The government is concerned about the sudden popularity of such cafes, which are gathering places for online gamers and those seeking Web information outside of official sources, in a country where many still cannot afford PCs or Internet access.

A fire set by an arsonist in June last year killed 25 in an unlicensed Internet cafe. The resulting crackdown on unlicensed premises has halved the number of outlets in the country. Since then, the China government has also stopped issuing new licenses.
Would I need a tinfoil beanie if I suggested that the arson was rather convenient?