China Mourning Suspends Entertainment Web Sites

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China began three days of national mourning for the victims of the May 12 earthquake, restricting access to entertainment content both on the Internet and broadcast media.

The official English-language newspaper China Daily reported Monday that "All public amusements will be suspended for three days from Monday. The State Council, the Cabinet, on Sunday ordered a nationwide display of respect for the dead."

Major portals and limited their home page offerings to news content. Sohu adopted an all-black font, with most of the links on the top half of the page relating to earthquake news. Video sites and both offered only quake-related material on their home pages, but other videos, such as music or amateur clips, could be accessed on both sites using search functions.

Game site The9, which is the China distributor for the exceptionally popular "World of Warcraft" MMPORG (Massively MultiPlayer Online Role-Playing Game), offered no links to any of its games. Instead, it offered information on how to donate to relief efforts. Players could still access their accounts for top-up payments and to view account information.

Representatives from the various companies did not respond immediately to requests for comment.

China is also suspending the Olympic torch relay for the three days of mourning. The government is asking people to observe three minutes of silence beginning at 2:28 p.m. local Beijing time, the time when the earthquake, which measured 7.8 on the Richter scale, occurred on May 12. By 2:00 p.m. Sunday, the official death toll stood at 32,476, with hundreds of thousands more injured.

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