Chinese online games shut down for quake mourning day

Chinese sites similar to Facebook and YouTube were also affected by the government order

Online games, music services and parts of other Web sites in China were shut down on Wednesday for a day of mourning mandated by the government after a deadly earthquake last week.

Popular online game World of Warcraft, the music download search sections offered by Google in China and by rival Baidu.com, and games inside social-networking sites were all among the affected services. The single-day shutdown is a minor example of how Chinese authorities often issue unexpected orders affecting the operations of companies here.

Over 2,000 people were killed in the earthquake that struck northwest China's Qinghai province last week, according to state media.

The halt to all "public entertainment activities" came on order of the State Council, China's cabinet. Offline businesses were also affected, with theaters, card game venues and others ordered to shut down in a follow-up order from the country's culture ministry.

Online game companies Shanda Online, Tencent and NetEase, the operator of World of Warcraft, all posted notices that their games would be down for the day. The Google and Baidu turned the company logos on their search engines black and white, and put up messages about the quake on their music sections. Games on Kaixin001.com, a popular social-networking site like Facebook, were also unavailable. Youku.com, a video-streaming site like YouTube, disabled its search function and put videos about the quake at the top of its main page.

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Owen Fletcher

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