A Shenzhen company has recently been fined 5,000 yuan (US$625) for sending a vast amount of junk mail since January this year in what is seen as a warning to spammers.
The penalty, believed to be the first of its kind in the country, was meted out based on a national anti-spam regulation, "Measures for the Administration of Internet Email Service," which was announced in March.
"The fine will send a warning to spam senders," said Zhang Aiping, vice-director of the Guangdong Provincial Administration of Communication.
The regulation bans the sending of junk mail without recipients' permission, and all such emails have to be marked "advertisement" or "AD."
Companies or individuals making money illegally by sending junk mail can be fined up to 30,000 yuan (US$3,750), according to the regulation.
Guangdong, the South China economic powerhouse, has been a major victim of junk mail in recent years. Spam in the province accounts for nearly a tenth of the country's total, according to Zhang.
The provincial communication administration launched a campaign against illegal mail in June but Internet users are not convinced that the anti-spam regulation will be strictly enforced.
"I still receive a lot of junk mail," said an annoyed Huang Xiaoqing, who works in a Guangzhou-based logistic company. "I have to spend a lot of time dealing with them; and viruses attached are a major concern."
Despite a recent crackdown, spam saw a rise in July compared with the previous month, sources with the Internet Society of China (ISC) said.
China has 111 million Internet users, second only to the United States and each of them received an average of 16.8 junk mails a week from August 2004 to April 2005. It is estimated that Chinese netizens receive more than 50 billion junk mails annually, sources with the ISC said.
The ISC will train 1,000 mail service administrators in key regions starting next month to improve Internet firms' defence against spam.