China said today it is imposing new regulations to control content on its news Web sites and will allow the posting of only "healthy and civilized" news.
The move is part of China's ongoing efforts to police the country's 100-million Internet population. Only the United States, with 135 million users, has more.
The new rules take effect immediately and will "standardize the management of news and information" in the country, the official Xinhua News Agency said today.
Sites should only post news on current events and politics, according to the new regulations issued by the Ministry of Information Industry and China's cabinet, the State Council. The subjects that would be acceptable under those categories was not clear.
Only "healthy and civilized news and information that is beneficial to the improvement of the quality of the nation, beneficial to its economic development and conducive to social progress" will be allowed, Xinhua said.
"The sites are prohibited from spreading news and information that goes against state security and public interest," it added.
While the communist government encourages Internet use for education and business, it also blocks material it deems subversive or pornographic. Online dissidents who post items critical of the government, or those expressing opinions in chatrooms, are regularly arrested and charged under vaguely worded state security laws.
Earlier this month, a French media watchdog group said e-mail account information provided by Internet powerhouse Yahoo Inc. helped lead to the conviction and 10-year prison sentence of a Chinese journalist who had written about media restrictions in an e-mail.
As part of the wider effort to curb potential dissent, the government has also closed thousands of cybercafes -- the main entry to the Web for many Chinese unable to afford a computer at home.
Authorities in Shanghai have installed surveillance cameras and begun requiring visitors to Internet cafes to register with their official identity cards.
The government also recently threatened to shut down unregistered Web sites and blogs, the online diaries in which users post their thoughts for others to read, Los Angeles Times reported.