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Netizens Speak out against Chinese Star Porn Photos
    2008-02-19 20:10:11     Xinhua

Netizens from about 40 websites have said they will not look at or pass on the hundreds of pornographic star photos which began circulating on the Internet during the Spring Festival and which have been dubbed Pornogate.


"Recently some racy photos of a Hong Kong singer-actor together with several actresses spread quickly on the Internet. They were viewed and downloaded by many netizens; they are beyond the acceptable limits of morality," read a declaration on the portal website Sohu.com.


"Hereby we call on each responsible netizen to 'end Pornogate' by deleting those photos, not downloading and not forwarding, so as to create a healthy online environment for children," said the declaration.


Dozens of other websites including Sina.com, Baidu.com, QQ.com, mediachina.net posted similar declarations. On Sina alone, about 2,000 netizens supported a posting from a netizen nicknamed Sanxia.


The Public Security Ministry launched a campaign from this January to September to clear porn from the Internet.


The Internet News and Information Review Council in Beijing on Monday asked China's major search website Baidu.com to make a public apology for its delayed reaction in blocking access to the photos.


"'Key-words searching' and 'Tieba', a picture-sharing section of Baidu.com, became a platform to show and spread the obscene pictures and Baidu failed to block the photos after other Beijing-based websites had taken actions against the pictures' spreading," said a statement issued by the council. One posting on the Tieba section of the Baidu website had attracted more than 500,000 clicks.


The incident aroused media frenzy from the end of January onwards, when the sex photos of Canadian-born rap singer and actor Edison Chen and starlet Gillian Chung were allegedly stolen from a faulty computer. They then spread rapidly on the Internet.


More celebrities were soon dragged into the scandal, including actress Cecilia Cheung, Hollywood actress Maggie Q and former actress Bobo Chan.


Hong Kong police made high-profile arrests of at least six suspects.


Edison Chen apologized in a video statement on Feb. 4, followed by Gillian Chung on Feb. 11, admitting that she had been "very naive and very silly".


The efforts, however, didn't seem to bring an end to the scandal.


Some people showed tolerance to the spreading the photos. "Such photos would be spread wherever they appear in the world. They could shoot the photos, why couldn't we spread them," said a netizen nicknamed Little Shrimp.


But Li Yinhe, a renowned sociologist and a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, expressed her worry. "Many people nowadays have the hobby of prying into others' privacy. We need to reflect on such vulgar and unhealthy interests."


China has the second largest population of internet users in the world -- 210 million by the end of 2007, among whom those aged between 18 and 24 accounted for 31.8 percent of the total and the group from 25 to 30 made up 18.1 percent.


A survey by the Shanghai University showed that 85 percent of the more than 100 primary school teachers polled and 73.4 percent of the 200 parents expressed anxiety about porn and violence on the Internet, but 56.8 percent of the teachers and 29.2 percent of the parents felt helpless in tackling the problem.


When "too obscene, too violent" has become the first catch phrase in the year 2008 in China, "the Pornogate scandal rings a warning bell for the Internet supervision department to beef up supervision," said a commentary on the southcn.com, "eliminating the obscene pictures is just the first step, and it will take a long time to create a healthy and harmonious online environment."


An official with the Beijing Qingdian Wanwei Telecommunication and Technology Co., Ltd was nabbed on Monday with three of his underling for uploading 28 obscene pictures last year, with a click rate of 250,000, according to a report of the Beijing Youth Daily.


"Because of the high click rate, they are likely to face more than ten years' jail," said the report.


The incident was also seen as a lesson for star-crazy youngsters.


Sports column writer Dong Lu posted an article on his blog, saying that "what fans of the stars should do is to smash their computers and common people, the idols".


"Thanks to Edison Chen and the scandal, although some actresses were hurt, they gave the society a valuable lesson...the fans should wake up and live their own lives."


His view was shared by a netizen nicknamed Haikuotiankong. "We should take this opportunity to educate our young people to see the stars in a correct way rather than deify and worship them blindly," he said. "those who died in the battle against snow disaster are our real idols."



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