China Targets Schools in War Against Online Lewdness

BEIJING—The Chinese Ministry of Education is now requiring primary and secondary schools to make regular inspections of school websites and install software filters on students' school computers.

"Schools should carry out educational activities tailored to different age groups, help them develop a positive attitude toward the cyber world, enhance their abilities to discern negative information, and thereby consciously resist negative content on the websites," read an announcement posted to the ministry website last week.

The announcement also said that students should not make or spread lewd content online, enter profitable internet cafes, access websites with lewd content or play lewd cyber games.

According to the People’s Daily Online, “Although the definition of pornography is self-evident, the announcement did not define what the ministry considers ‘lewd.’”

While some parents approve of the new measures, the article also quotes some Chinese teens as saying they are futile.

“Wang Tao, a secondary school student who had just rushed out from a small hidden internet café on Jintai Road, Beijing, told the Global Times that his classmates seldom use school computers to surf the Web.

"We play World of Warcraft. It's impossible to play on the school's computers. So we play the game here," he said.

The government has also targeted internet cafes as well as adult websites and Chinese ISPs in its aggressive campaign to control the dissemination of sexually explicit content online. Many observers believe, however, that the anti-porn campaign masks a deeper desire by the government to squash political speech critical of the government.