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China root out violence and porn from online games

China is stepping up censorship of online gaming to root out pornography, eliminate threats to state security and to stop youths becoming addicted, Xinhua news agency said on Monday.

Online gaming has exploded in China in recent years, with an estimated 13.8 million people taking part. Chinese media have expressed concern that more and more young people are becoming hooked, taking a heavy toll on their studies.

New industry standards would require developers to amend games that can cause addiction and a group of "quality games" would be recommended, Xinhua said without elaborating. New censorship of online games started in April and would last until September, targeting pornography, gambling, violence and games "threatening state security", Xinhua reported.

Sovereignty-sensitive China banned a British computer sports game, "Soccer Manager 2005", in December for classifying Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau and Tibet -- all of which China views as its own -- as countries.

Addressing rampant piracy in the industry, the campaign would also punish "illegal behaviour" that infringes on intellectual property rights and disturbs market order, Xinhua said.

Chinese online gamers spent $240 million (132 million pounds) on their hobby last year and annual revenues are expected to reach $1.5 billion by 2008.

But foreign online game companies, particularly from South Korea, have dominated the market, accounting for 70 percent of those sales.

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