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China lifts ban on foreign game consoles

New marketplace opens up to Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo

China has temporarily lifted a near 14-year ban on the sale of foreign game consoles, Reuters reports.

The suspension of the longstanding ban will enable foreign companies such as Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo to manufacture game consoles within Shanghai's free trade zone and sell their products across the country.

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Individual companies hoping to do so must first seek government approval, according to a statement posted on the website of the nation's highest decision-making body, the State Council.

Government ministries originally decided to ban consoles in 2000 due to fears about the impact games were having on young people, leading to an increase in popularity of PC gaming in internet cafes.

It was reported in January 2013 that Chinese authorities were considering lifting the ban. However, the seven ministries which originally enacted the ban needed to agree to ending it before the market could be opened up to foreign console sales again.

Despite the ban, consoles have remained available in China through unofficial channels, although most game players currently enjoy the pastime on PCs and smartphones.

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