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If you are visiting China and need a mobile phone, it’s best to take your passport with you to the shop because the country has introduced a new rule which states all phone numbers must be registered with the user’s personal details.

While some see the move as an invasion of privacy, the strict country have insisted it is an attack on spam and not a means to keep tabs on citizens. Many people are reportedly ready to give up their phones and selling mobiles for cash is a tempting offer.

Anyone wanting to buy a mobile phone now must show their ID cards, and for foreigners, a passport must be shown. There is a limit on how many mobiles can be bought though, with only 18 numbers allowed to be issued to one person.

The cheapest numbers available in China are ones that heavily feature the number 4, because in Mandarin Chinese, it is pronounced “si” which sounds similar to the word for death.

Reporting on the new rules, the China Daily newspaper described it as “the latest campaign by the government to curb the global scourge of spam, pornographic messages and fraud on cellular phones.”

However, many believe this is a cover-up and the authorities will use the information to snoop. A commentary in the China Economic Times said: “Now that the system of authenticating names for mobile phones is being enforced, the related measures for protecting citizens' privacy cannot be delayed.”

If you compare mobile phones laws around the world, most countries are not so strict with their rules.

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