Mayor wary of 'evil' content

PUBLISHED : Friday, 25 February, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 25 February, 2000, 12:00am

Shanghai Mayor Xu Kuangdi has said the city will do its best to popularise the Internet among its residents but warned the government would also seek ways to block the spread of information it deemed 'unhealthy'.

While characterising the Internet as primarily beneficial, Mr Xu also cautioned 'some bad people have used [it] to engage in immoral and illegal activities'.

The mayor cited the spread of pornography, violence and 'evil religions' as examples.

Shanghai is in the midst of a push to develop its self-described Information Technology Port, which will include the development of multiple-use broadband technology for voice, television and data communication.

It is believed there were 500,000 Internet users in Shanghai last year, a threefold increase over 1998.

Mr Xu did not specify how the government would regulate information reaching locals.

Speaking to reporters yesterday, the mayor also applauded the mainland's efforts to join the World Trade Organisation, saying globalisation would foster mutual development and lead to better allocation of resources.

He said the mainland's low value-added labour-intensive industries such as textiles, shoes and toys would benefit immediately on WTO entry.

However, he added the country's financial markets lacked sufficient development and supervision to protect themselves against the turbulence caused by large inflows of overseas capital.

'We have gained some experience and lessons from our neighbours,' Mr Xu said.

'I know there is no free lunch in this world, and we will buy the ticket,' he added.

Mr Xu also dampened speculation the city would soon merge local property markets divided for domestic and overseas customers.

Acknowledging property developers, who invested to sell to overseas nationals, suffered during the Asian financial crisis, he said the city was adopting a 'case by case' approach to allow them to sell their houses. 'We are adopting realistic and flexible methods,' he said.