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Chinese Online Gambling Crackdown on the Cards


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One foot in the past and one foot in the future is how many people describe
China, a country that has grown in leaps and bounds since its communist shackles
were loosened, and which is increasingly embracing western ideals on one hand,
but is still clinging to its totalitarian past on the other.

This contradiction can most clearly be seen in China’s attitude towards the
internet, and closely related online gambling. A few years ago the Chinese
government took the forward-thinking step of allowed the world’s biggest
internet search engine, Google, to launch a Chinese version, but with a big
catch.

The government would be able to censor the search results. And while this made
world headlines and went against everything Google, a multi-billion dollar
template of American capitalism, stand for, the mammoth internet search engine
relented. But not without being criticized in many quarters.

Two areas the Chinese government wanted to ‘protect’ its citizens from in
particular were pornography and online gambling. The first one is probably no
surprise given the prevalence of porn on the internet, but the second one was a
little surprising considering China’s long and rich gambling heritage.

Even though gambling was banned in China in 1949 when the Communists took over,
Chinese gamblers continued to gamble through two state-owned lotteries. However,
as China began to thaw from its ‘Communist freeze’, underground land and online
gambling operations sprang up like wildfire.

But instead of embracing the return to its millennia old gambling roots, the
Chinese government has continued to crack down on online gambling even more.
Just this month the Chinese Ministry of Public Security announced that it will
launch a nationwide anti-online gambling campaign to run until August.

A Ministry of Public Security read: ‘The campaign will concentrate on
investigating major and important cases of online gambling, knock out domestic
and foreign groups that organize online gambling, and severely punish the
criminal elements.’ Which is Chinese terms could well mean the death penalty.

In March last year, the Chinese government banned YouTube after Chinese citizens
had access to a video of a Tibetan protestor, who was injured and ultimately
died at the hands of Chinese authorities. The government has also blocked access
to other social networks Facebook, Twitter and Flickr.

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