BEIJING, March 6 (Xinhua) -- China will not approve the opening of new internet bars in 2007, according to a directive issued by 14 government departments including the Ministry of Culture, the State Administration for Industry and Commerce and the Ministry of Information Industry.
"In 2007, local governments must not sanction the opening of new internet bars. The construction of bars that have received planning approval prior to the issuance of this notice must be completed by June 30, 2007," the notice said.
There are currently about 113,000 Internet bars in China, according to the Ministry of Information Industry.
The notice reiterated that Internet bars must not admit anyone under the age of 18. Internet bars that are found to have twice allowed minors on their premises will be forced to close for 15 days and fined. A third offence can lead to their business license being revoked.
School-owned Internet bars must be directly managed by the school and operated on a not-for-profit basis and cannot be leased to individuals, the notice said.
Over the past few years, China has seen an alarming rise in the number of teenagers addicted to Internet cafes and gaming.
A report released by the China National Children's Center claimed that 13 percent of Chinese Internet users under the age of 18 were Internet addicts.
Official statistics show that the number of Internet users in China reached 123 million in mid-2006. About 15 percent of the total - or 18 million - are under the age of 18.
A report by the Beijing reformatory for juvenile delinquents claims that 33.5 percent of its delinquent detainees were goaded into committing crimes, mostly robbery and rape, by violent online games or erotic websites.
Many experts and lawmakers have suggested the government tighten up on the management of Internet bars.