China Warns Media Giant Sina to "Improve" Censorship

China Quota Wheel Illustration 2014

If Sina, which operates China's fourth most popular website, doesn't stop running illegal content, its news services could be shut down.

Chinese media authorities will punish the popular web portal and social media firm Sina after it was singled out as running the most complained-about major website in the country, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) said.

The CAC had summoned bosses from the Nasdaq-listed Sina over "massive numbers of public complaints about its law violations," and the web giant will face suspension of its Internet news services if it fails to improve censorship of illegal content.

Since the beginning of the year, the administration has received 6,038 complaints about Sina, more than any other web portal, the Xinhua news agency reported. Sina also operates China's most popular microblog Weibo Corp.

The move against Sina is the latest episode in President Xi Jinping's campaign to bring China's Internet firmly under government control, using censorship methods such as the Great Firewall of China.

China has 650 million Internet users, but the online world is tightly regulated, and global services such as Google, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube are blocked as are many foreign news websites, such as The New York Times.

The reports indicated that "Sina has spread illegal information related to rumors, violence and terrorism, pornography, swindling, advocation of heresies and has distorted news facts, violated morality and engaged in media hype."

Sina also has published some false news fueled by haste, and its censorship of user accounts has been poor, "undermining online order and damaging public interests," the CAC added.

Sina responded by saying the group will intensify censorship and publish more information with "positive energy."