China: June 21, 2002


The fire in an Internet Cafe in the capital is turning into a major problem for the government, and its ability to wage cyberwar. The Chinese internet community, a vital asset in any future cyberwar waged by China, has turned on the government because of the way the government responded to the internet cafe fire. The government ordered 2,400 internet cafes in the capital  closed. It then came out that 90 percent of those internet cafes were illegal. Since they were illegal, safety officials claimed they were under no obligation to inspect these cafes for fire safety. However, nothing goes unnoticed by the police in China and apparently it was customary for businesses like internet cafes to bribe police to stay open rather than struggle for months with licensing bureaucrats to get the proper permits to open.  Such corruption isn't a secret, but most Chinese would rather not dwell on it, as it is felt that not much can be done about it. But the degree of corruption involved with the internet cafe licensing and reaction to the fire has enraged China's online community. Although chat rooms are usually censored to remove inflammatory and subversive remarks, this has not been happening  as much since discussions of the cafe fire began. If the Chinese internet community hostility to the government persists, and grows, China will find itself without a lot of manpower for cyberwar, and facing a dangerous internal enemy.


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