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Beijing shuts down 1,000,000 nightspots

The Straits Times, 30 January 2001

BEIJING - Chinese police closed nearly a million pubs, discos and karaoke centres during a three-month nationwide crackdown on vice late last year, state media reported yesterday.

China launched the campaign last July after admitting that vice activities were 'out of control' in some public areas.

Law enforcers closed 947,000 entertainment centres during the crackdown from July to September last year to curb drug use, prostitution and gambling.

According to public security officials meeting in Hangzhou in eastern Zhejiang province, China reduced the number of entertainment outlets nationwide by 22 per cent, for the sake of 'public safety and social stability'.

In Beijing, 40 per cent of all entertainment establishments were forced to close down. The same percentage of closures was also reported in the provinces of Hubei, Hainan and Qinghai.

In the municipalities of Shanghai and Tianjin, and in Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Fujian, Shandong and Shaanxi provinces, the crackdown led to a 30 per cent decrease.

In the course of the campaign, which also targeted video-game arcades and saunas, a total of 247,000 people were arrested and officials engaged in the illegal activities punished.

'Any official who provides protection to violators will be punished severely,' state councillor Luo Gan was quoted as saying.

He admitted that some officials had turned a blind eye to vice. Police and courts throughout the country were ordered to punish violators severely.

The officers carrying out the anti-vice campaign had focused on police involvement in illicit activities as well as the admission of under-age customers to establishments meant for adults.

The closed entertainment centres were acting as meeting points for drug dealers, drug addicts, prostitutes and gamblers, creating social problems and endangering social stability, official sources said.

In a parallel crackdown on video-game arcades, the General Office of the State Council had circulated a notice warning that the arcades operating illegally would be shut across the country.

The notice said no video-game arcade should be located within 200 m of a primary or middle school and they must not admit adolescents except during holidays.

Internet cafes cannot offer video games and computerised gambling machines are forbidden, the notice warned. --AFP, Xinhua