Report: Chinese City to Fine Web Surfers in Satire Crackdown

The price of Internet satire in China is going up.

A major city is threatening to fine Web surfers up to $625 for online defamation amid a surge in short satirical Internet films, a news report said Monday.

The new rules enacted in Chongqing, a major industrial city in China's southwest, against "online defamation" come as Beijing tries to tighten control over the freewheeling Internet.

The rules target Web users "who spread information or remark defaming others, launch personal attacks or damage others' reputations online," the official Xinhua News Agency said.

Potential violations included posting online video "to satirize others or social phenomena," Xinhua said.

Video spoofs have become so popular that Chinese have coined a new slang term, "egao," to describe the act of using real film clips to create mocking send ups.

Star film director Chen Kaige complained earlier this year about a 20-minute short titled "The Bloody Case of the Steamed Bun," made with clips from Chen's "The Promise."

Xinhua didn't say how Chongqing would decide whether Internet users violated the rules or whether it would try to enforce its regulations on Web surfers elsewhere.

China's government encourages Internet use for business and education but tries to block access to material deemed obscene or subversive.

Government film regulators announced new rules in August meant to rein in the fad by allowing only authorized major Web sites to show short films online.