The Internet in China needs to be administered by additoinal laws because what was once a virtual world is now a substantial part of the real one, a senior official has said.
"The government should make efforts to strengthen the legislation of the Internet so it can be regulated effectively," Cai Mingzhao, vice-minister of the State Council Information Office, said at the UK-China Internet Roundtable meeting yesterday.
The Chinese government has already set up a basic legal framework that regulates Internet information, tackles cyber crime and protects network security.
Cai said the State must continually develop legislation to deal with new Internet-related issues as they arise, so the Internet can be managed.
There are now 338 million Internet users in China - more than a quarter of the population. Some 181 million write blogs and the Internet is increasingly being seen as a "new channel" for public opinion. Bloggers have played an important role in busting corrupt officials and reporting incidents, such as the Urumqi riot.
But the challenge of managing blogs and bloggers has become an important issue for the government, said Liu Zhengrong, deputy director of the Internet affairs bureau of the State Council.
"Bloggers are prohibited from leaving 'harmful' or 'unhealthy' comments on the Internet, in order to protect the general public," Liu said. "Website administrators have responsibility to monitor and control the contents that are posted on their websites by bloggers."
"Harmful" and "unhealthy" information includes the spreading of rumors, slander, porn, gambling, violence, details of murder and terror and the instigating of crime.