China illicit entertainment crackdown nets 49 million items

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BEIJING, May 22 (Reuters) China's latest crackdown on ''pornographic and illegal'' books, magazines and DVDs has netted 49 million items, state media reported today, claiming that 90 percent of the confiscated products were pirated.

President Hu Jintao has been pressing officials to staunch the country's appetite for sexually explicit and politically corrosive entertainment. The National Office for Cleaning Up Pornography and Fighting Illegal Publications announced the fruits of this campaign, Xinhua news agency reported.

China's once puritanical ways have given way in recent decades to a barely concealed boom in pornographic entertainment. Ordinary people also snap up books and magazines claiming to expose the private lives and misdeeds of Communist Party leaders.

In the first four months of this year, law officers confiscated 2.75 million pornographic publications and illegal newspapers and magazines, and nearly 3 million smuggled entertainment discs, the report said.

The report did not spell out what the other tens of millions of confiscated items were, though they appeared to be pirate copies of films and music.

But it said the campaign had shut down 13,000 shops and stalls, 364 printing plants, and 97 Web sites. As well, 165 people were convicted.

Reuters NC GC2122

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