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III. Comment on the headline.
IV. Interpret the lines below:
1. The unit could make a “significant” impact on the UK’s robbery problem.
2. Tough penalties are also in place for criminals who seek to re-programme handsets.
3. The “epidemic” of mobile phone theft across Britain was still being fuelled by an international market.
4. “This is all speculative at the moment,” said Cmndr Yates.
5. Police hope to get industry co-operation to set up an international database to make all stolen handsets useless whatever their destination.
V. Points for discussion.
1. Why are more and more people being mugged for their cell phones? 2. Have you got a cell phone? What make is it? Do you like it? How long have you had it? Have you ever been assaulted for it? Do you know any people who were victimized because of it? 3. What do you think is the right penalty for those who are involved in mobile phone theft?
TALKING TOUGH ON PIRACY
Beijing cracks down on the latest teenage ‘addiction’: black-market videogames.
Few passersby would guess that the clean-cut, rucksack-toting students who ply the Jiaodaokou section of Beijing are trying to score their next fix. Here in the shadow of the Forbidden City, the nerve center of China’s Communist Party, dealers exhibit their wares in small shops housed in old, gray buildings. You like to drive a car? Try Ridge Racer. “Star Wars” buff? Go for Gradius. Itching for a fight? Consider Quake III.
The contraband in question is, of course, nothing less than the latest videogames from Japan and the United States. After years of turning the blind eye to the burgeoning illicit trade in pirated videogames, Beijing is suddenly talking tough. The games are “like opium,” says the government-run China Daily, and teens are turning into “addicts”. Videogames create a “bizarre and motley world with no teachers, homework and textbooks,” the paper says. “The craving for diversion can only grow.” The government has banned game playing at video parlors, the popular cybercafés where teens congregate during school hours, and the police have raided some establishments.
While Beijing cracks down on truants, however, the videogame pirates who are fueling the craze and getting off virtually scot-free. Now that China may soon join the World Trade Organization, Western and Japanese entertainment firms, infuriated over the loss of revenues, are watching closely to see how Beijing handles the piracy problem. So far it has conducted spot raids on shops that sell illicit videogames. Judging from the dozens of stores in the Jiaodaokou section of the city that appear to be doing a healthy business, the policy hasn’t been very effective.
Discouraging pirating is not going to be easy. About 95 percent of videogames sold in China are pirate copies, by some estimates. Games that would sell for $90 in the United States are copied onto CD-ROM discs and sold on the streets of Beijing for less than a buck. The problem is so bad that Sony refuses to sell its PlayStation 2 in China, despite huge demand. Kids, of course, still manage to buy the machines on the black market for 5,000 yuan ($604). “Any disc or machine sold in mainland China is either smuggled or counterfeit,” says Yoshiko Furusawa, an executive at Sony Computer Entertainment in Tokyo.
Ironically, pirates have greatly benefited from the Chinese government’s policy of encouraging entrepreneurship. Many pirating shops are based in government-sponsored technology-development areas. One outfit occupies a 9-meter-by-9-meter room in a granite-and-glass skyscraper in a new technology sector near Beijing University, where three young cyber-entrepreneurs churn out illicit discs. At a booth nearby, a young Chinese woman hawks their wares. “The Sony PlayStation 2 discs contain many sophisticated anti-piracy measures,” she says. “But we have broken all of them.”
It remains to be whether China decides to get serious about putting a stop to piracy. Local police only rarely apprehend street vendors and never bother their suppliers. And many of the biggest pirate-disc factories may be run by children of top party officials. In a 1995 battle between China and the United States, “it turned out that one of these factories was run by the People’s Liberation Army,” says US trade official Joseph Papovich, “and that’s why it was not shut down.” And now that Chinese teenagers have gotten hooked, demand is not likely to abate any time soon.
/Newsweek, January 22, 2001/
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