Chinese state media tone down criticism of video game industry

The Tencent Games logo is seen on its game on a mobile phone in this illustration picture taken

Chinese state media tempered their criticism of the video game industry on Wednesday, a day after a strongly worded article drove down shares in Tencent Holdings, while still stressing concern over the use of the Internet by minors.

The articles followed Tuesday’s report in the Economic Information Daily that called online video games “spiritual opium”, adding, “No industry should be allowed to develop in a way that will destroy a generation.”

The item went viral and re-ignited investor fears about state intervention after Beijing had already targeted the education and technology sectors, wiping $60 billion off the share price of gaming giant Tencent Holdings Ltd (0700.HK) at one point.

The phrase “spiritual opium” had been removed in a version the publisher re-posted late on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, the People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the ruling Communist Party, said in an opinion piece that “all sectors of society” needed to pay attention to, and join in, protecting minors from Internet dangers, without assigning blame.

The Securities Daily, which is also state-backed, said in a front-page commentary that while higher requirements needed to be put on video game firms, the industry’s healthy development urgently needed to be promoted.

Shares in Tencent rose as much as 5.3% on Wednesday.

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