Oops, we forgot about the foreigners ...
"If I bring my passport, can I go online at the Internet cafe?"
"If I bring my passport and my student ID, can I surf?"
"Still not. You need to show a new-generation ID card."
"But I'm a foreigner! How can I possibly have a [national] ID card?"
Sichuan University study-abroad student Li Tingqi from South Korea frequents Internet bars, but recently he's been unable to. He went to five or six different cafes and at each one was told that he needs to show a "second-generation" ID card. [Second-generation ID cards feature a color photo, a magnetic strip on the back, and have been issued since 2005. "Is it possible that now only Chinese people can get online at the Internet bars in Chengdu?"
Yesterday, the reporter went to investigate at seven different Internet bars in Chengdu and discovered that not only can foreigners not get online at the Internet bars, also military personnel with military IDs are being refused alongside anybody else who doesn't carry the second-generation resident identity cards. And even if you do have a card, but you're unlucky, the magnetic strip on your card will be unreadable, and you also won't be able to go online.
Li Tingqi has been studying in Chengdu for four years. Two days ago, Li Tingqi had made plans with Korean friends to go to the Internet cafe for an online gaming session. As usual, at the big Internet cafe near Sichuan University, they pulled out their 'net-cafe cards to sign in. But the employee at the counter told them that according to new Public Security Bureau regulations, the Internet bar has implemented a system for swiping the new-generation ID cards, and only those cards. Any other form of ID would not be accepted.
"We're all overseas students from South Korea, how can we have Chinese IDs?" Li Tingqi and his friends could not understand. He took out his passport and his student ID in order to verify his identity, but the employee maintained that he would not be able to surf the 'net without a second-generation ID card. So Li Tingqi and his friends went to another 'net bar, and another, and another, until they had been refused by five or six Internet cafes.
"We've entered the country legally, and are legallly in Chengdu studying, and we've all registered with the PSB as study-abroad students, so why can't we go online at the 'net bar?" asked South Korean student Hong Zaimin, adding that now he can only go online at friends' houses, which is no long-term solution. He believes that 'net bars should allow foreigners to go online if they show their passport.
The reporter confirmed the South Korean students' complaints at seven different Internet cafes in the Jinjiang District.
At the Huanduoji Internet Club near Sichuan University, the employee explained that their machines can read only the second-generation ID cards. Since the machines were installed a week ago, said the employee, all foreign students looking to surf the 'net have been turned away.
Passports, old ID cards, residence books, driver's licenses, and so on are not accepted.
At the Liulian Internet Bar at Guojia Qiao, an employee told the reporter that earlier that morning a foreign nationality had come to the Internet bar urgently needing to send an e-mail, but he too was refused. "All we could say was to tell him to contact his consulate."
A nearby 'net bar said that the foreign students are trickling in to be refunded the remaining value on their online-credit cards. Previously, the employee added, the bar would be around 80 percent full at peak times. Now that figure has dropped to around 60 percent.
A spokesperson in charge of Internet management at the Wangjiang police station told the reporter that all Internet bars in Chengdu have been fitted with readers for new cards and that if they are manipulated, an alarm will be sent to the police, who will fine the establishment. But during the past week, nearly every day the police station received calls from foreign students and foreign workers as well as military personnel who were surprised by the new regulations. Another portion of calls came in from holders of the cards whose magnetic strips had been damaged and could not be read by the machine. The spokesperson agreed that such issues needed to be resolved and has passed on complaints to the Wuhou Public Security Sub-Bureau.