Chinese officials cite ‘visual concerns’ as a catalyst to the video game clampdown after figures from a national report in 2015 claimed that around 500 million Chinese, almost half the population above five years old, suffer visual impairment. Photo: iStock/Getty Images

As China’s crypto angst intensifies, the government continues to bring down the hammer on anything that could possibly be related to it. The latest clampdown has been on video games.

Following a massive crackdown on crypto exchanges a year ago the government has been increasing efforts to prevent its people having anything to do with digital currencies. As in the rest of the region, many are very interested in this emerging technology and trading and investing in it. Since exchanges have now been banned outright, citizens have taken to peer-to-peer trading by using online chat rooms.

The authorities were having none of this and have closed a number of crypto-related groups in addition to closing down a number of blockchain news outlets on China’s largest platform WeChat.

It did not stop there. According to local news reports, Chinese tech giant Baidu has now joined other major online firms Tencent and Alibaba in imposing new anti-crypto measures as Beijing toughens its stance again.

Alibaba, which runs the extremely popular Alipay app, has towed the line by announcing that it will restrict or permanently ban any accounts found to be engaged in crypto trading. Tencent stated that it will block ‘suspicious’ accounts or transactions, and Baidu has closed at least two crypto-related discussion forums.

Beijing’s latest beef is with video games and, according to Bloomberg, regulators plan to curb the number of online games and discourage play time. The statement was posted on the Education Ministry website late on Thursday and claimed to justify concerns over gaming addiction and violent content. Authorities will “control the number of new online games, explore an age-appropriate reminder system in line with national conditions, and take measures to limit the use time of minors,” according to the statement.

Chinese officials are also stating ‘visual concerns’ as a catalyst to the latest clampdown. Figures from a national vision report in 2015 claim that around 500 million Chinese, almost half the population above five years old, suffer visual impairment, 450 million or those are near-sighted.

According to reports, China is the world’s largest gaming market, which makes crackdowns like these are a hard pill to swallow for local companies. Stocks have already started to tumble following the announcement with internet and gaming giant Tencent falling over 5% in Hong Kong, and game developer Perfect World Co losing over 9% in Shenzhen.

The ‘Great firewall’ has long been known to prevent citizens from accessing the internet outside of China but the next tech-savvy generation have always worked to find ways around it. With the regime now seemingly hell-bent on curtailing all form of online freedom, not just crypto-related, it remains to be seen if this will remain the case.

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