China's Internet watchdog on Thursday urged the building of a healthy, orderly environment for microblogging, stressing that there must be no avenue for spreading rumors or illegal information online.
Wang Chen, director general of China's State Internet Information Office, urged the strengthening of regulation over microblogs in a bid to use them to "serve the works of the Party and the nation," as well as the people.
Wang, also deputy head of the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, made the remarks at a seminar themed "how microblogs can serve society."
Social networking sites, such as microblogs and Facebook-like services, have become major platforms for social associations and information-sharing in China.
Sina Weibo, the most popular microblog service in terms of registered users, now has more than 200 million users.
With 485 million users, China is home to the world's largest number of registered web users. The rising popularity of microblogging has allowed segments of the population to voice their opinions in a way that has never been seen before in China.
Wang said that in accordance with laws and regulations, the government will punish those who use microblogs to spread lies, rumors, and pornography and subsequently threaten online information security and public security.
He stressed that the government will not allow illegal information to be posted on microblogs.
Wang added that microblogs should be used for "popularizing sciences, advancing culture, and projecting social morality," adding that this type of information and the platforms that provide it should be increased to meet people's demands.
Wang's remarks come two weeks after the Ministry of Public Security urged the use of microblogs to "release correct and authorized information in order to dispel misunderstandings."
Liu Qi, head of the CPC in Beijing Municipality, paid a rare visit to Sina's headquarters in August, where he encouraged Internet companies to stop the spread of "false and harmful information" and to "ensure the authenticity of information and create a healthy online media atmosphere."
(China.org.cn October 14, 2011)