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China Arrests 41, Shuts Down 1,250 Web Sites

Chinese authorities have shut down more than 1,000 Internet sites and detained 41 people as part of a crackdown on pornography and lewd content.

The deputy director of the State Council's (Information Office) Internet Affairs Bureau said Friday that 1,250 sites have been closed since the campaign began on January 5.

The deputy, Liu Zhengrong, said the sole aim of the campaign is to create a clean Internet environment for children.

It is illegal to distribute pornography in China.

But China's official Xinhua news agency said lewd content also includes "violence, libel, private and other information that violates standards of public decency."

Xinhua said the China Internet Illegal Information Reporting Center has received more than 18,000 reports of pornographic and lewd Internet content since the start of the campaign.

One of the sites closed early in the campaign was, which hosted outspoken political and social commentary. Some writers on the site signed a petition calling for democratic reforms.

China aggressively censors the Internet to block any sites it considers offensive or politically subversive.

This year marks politically sensitive anniversaries, including the 20th anniversary of the Chinese government's military crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations at Beijing's Tiananmen square.

China has the world's largest online population of any country with an estimated 250 million users.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.