The Chinese government has encouraged growth of the internet but at the same time has imposed increasingly tough controls on what can be seen online inside China.

 

"Those who provide internet video services should insist on serving the people, serve socialism… and abide by the moral code of socialism"

Chinese internet regulations
The rules are aimed at stopping what the government calls "degenerate thinking" via the internet and maintaining a "healthy online environment".

 

Pro-democracy websites are blocked, as are the sites of many international news organisations, and a force of about 30,000 internet police are thought to monitor the web for anything seen as undesirable content.

 

The government has also introduced strict regulations on bloggers, requiring them to register under their real names and allowing only a few providers to operate blogging sites.

 

The new video regulations, which take effect at the end of January, were approved by the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television and the information ministry.

 

Permits needed

 

Sites that provide video programming or allow users to upload video will have to obtain government permits and applicants must be either state-owned or state-controlled companies.

 

Chinese security forces keep a tight watch
on online content [GALLO/GETTY]
According to the regulations: "Those who provide internet video services should insist on serving the people, serve socialism… and abide by the moral code of socialism."

 

The new regulations, similar to those in place for news services, will ban providers from broadcasting video that involves national secrets, hurts the reputation of China, disrupts social stability or promotes pornography.

 

Providers will be required to delete and report such content to the authorities while major violators could see themselves banned for up to five years.

 

The status of popular international video-sharing sites such as YouTube remains in question.

 

YouTube runs a Chinese-language site, but it is not clear if any of its servers are located in China.

 

China has seen an explosion of online video content, with home-grown sites such as Tudou.com posting thousands of videos a day.

 

China has an estimated 150 million internet users and is expected to soon overtake the US as the world leader in online population.