Living It Up in the Illicit Internet Underground

As officials crack down on cyberculture in China, devotees scheme to stay online

Chen used to spend his evenings in the corners of Shanghai's cheapest bars, whiling away the hours with his Sprite-and-beer shandies and a stack of car magazines. But last September, the 20-year-old engineering major discovered a new hangout. Ascending a narrow staircase to a windowless room, he found a place near several other men sitting alone, obscured by clouds of cigarette smoke. Chen (he declines to give his full name) is now devoted to this Internet cafe. In May he spent 32 hours straight here, working his way through six packs of Double Happiness cigarettes and relieving himself in a bucket...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!