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Porn Crackdown to Shield China's Youth During Holiday

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China's Internet watchdogs on Friday vowed to continue a crackdown on pornography and "lewd" content throughout the weeklong Spring Festival holiday in order to protect the nation's youth.

"The campaign has a single and clear goal, that is to clean up the Internet and save the Internet environment for children," said Liu Zhengrong, deputy director of the network office of the State Council's Information Office.

"Rampant pornography and lewd content on the Internet do great damage to juveniles, and we are acting in response to the public complaints," Liu said at a press conference.

He said, "A few days ago, a friend asked me if it was safe to let his 12-year-old son surf the Internet, and I felt ashamed. I told him we wouldn’t stop working during the holiday to reassure all anxious parents."

Public distribution of pornography is illegal in China, and the government's crackdown ahead of the traditional Spring Festival holiday, which begins on Monday, is aimed at shielding young people from online porn.

"Lewd" content includes violence, libel, private and other information that violates standards of public decency.

The China Internet Illegal Information Reporting Center has received more than 18,000 reports of online porn and lewd content since the campaign was launched.

"Reported pornographic sites will be shut down and portals with columns containing porn or lewd content will be blacklisted and asked to wipe them out," said Xi Wei, the center's vice-director.

The center is scheduled to unveil another blacklist at the end of the month.

Since the campaign was jointly launched on January 5 by seven government departments, including the State Council's Information Office and the ministries of public security and culture, authorities have shut down 1,250 illegal sites and deleted more than 3 million items.

Of the country's 298 million Internet users, about 108 million are under 19, according to the China Internet Network Information Center.

An estimated 80 million Internet users are primary and high school students, who use computers for research and learning materials.

Authorities have extended the crackdown to mobile phone messages, online games and novels, videos and radio programs.

(Xinhua News Agency January 24, 2009)