China lashes out at 'vulgar' ads
Beijing - China has ordered the country's online game companies to stop promoting their products in ways that Beijing deems "vulgar", in the government's latest move to clamp down on the booming market.
The order from the culture ministry came after several companies featured scantily clad models in their ads, including a Japanese porn star and a Chinese woman who gained fame when her sex videos were posted online, state media said.
Authorities at all levels are required to step up inspections in order to make sure websites delete unwanted "vulgar" game ads, the ministry said in a notice published on Wednesday on its website.
Officials must "discover and stop in a timely manner any practice that tramples on the moral bottom line", it said. The ministry vowed to punish serious violations of the rules to "curb the spread of vulgar promotion of internet games".
The notice adds weight to a set of rules issued by the ministry in June, the first ever governing the booming online game market which specifically target sexual and violent content in the industry.
The regulations, which will come into force on August 1, require online game companies to self-censor and users who want to play a game to go through a registration process with a valid identity card.
IT research firm Analysys International predicts that by 2012, China's internet game market will nearly triple from 2009 levels to rake in about 73 billion yuan ($11bn), with more than 270 million players.
China's online population now exceeds 400 million, according to official data.
Beijing operates an extensive system of internet censorship - dubbed the "Great Firewall of China" - aimed at filtering out any information deemed politically sensitive or harmful.