Edict pulls plug on 'evil' video games
The nation's latest socialist morals campaign has identified its first 'public enemy', with three central government bodies announcing a nationwide ban on all video gambling games.
The joint prohibition order was issued by the Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Public Security and State Administration for Industry and Commerce and will become effective on Friday.
Video games were considered a serious impediment to the campaign to construct 'spiritual civilisation', Xinhua (the New China News Agency) said yesterday.
'Spiritual civilisation' is Beijing's code phrase for Marxist orthodoxy.
All video game parlour operators will have one month to remove games offering rewards to the players.
Games which offer the player points scores or game coupons as a reward are included in the ban, along with those offering cash payouts.
Police will prosecute any operators found to have violated the ban after the one-month grace period, as well as the property owners of the parlours, for illegal gambling.
Video games branded illegal under the ban will be confiscated by the Culture and Commerce departments to be destroyed, the Xinhua despatch said.
Meanwhile, commerce departments will impose a freeze on all new video game parlour licence applications and review all existing licence holders. Operators who are found to be unqualified will be denied new licences.
The order claimed many video game parlours had become gambling dens and posed a serious threat to public order.
'In recent years, electronic game parlours have grown rapidly but some operators have turned their parlours into gambling dens by disguising them as rewarding games,' the order said.
Industry sources said the ban would deal a severe blow to the video game business since virtually all games carry some sort of scoring function - a feature considered illegal under the ban.
The Communist Party reaffirmed its commitment to strengthen cadres' socialist ethics last month when its powerful Central Committee held the Sixth Plenum in Beijing.
A resolution was adopted calling on all cadres to steep themselves in socialist canons and avoid corrupt Western influences.
Video game parlours are popular in China and some are key attractions in state-run guesthouses and hotels, especially in coastal cities. Adults as well as teenagers are frequent customers.