China Cracks Down on Online Sexual-Health Information

China's government plans to tighten restrictions on Web sites that discuss sexual health, the latest step in a widening campaign against pornography that is roiling the Internet industry and highlighting changing attitudes toward sex in Chinese society.

The restrictions are part of broader regulations set to take effect July 1. The Ministry of Health says the rules are aimed at improving the accuracy and scientific basis of all medical-health sites on the Internet.

The guidelines — which apply to topics including "sexual psychology, sexual ethics, sex medicine, and sex treatments" — state that only government-sanctioned medical institutions can provide sex-related content on Web sites, and that all such sites will have to be approved by provincial-level health authorities.

In another instance of China objecting to Web content, a spokesman for China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Thursday reiterated criticism of Google Inc., saying its site "has spread large amounts of pornographic, lewd and vulgar content, which is in serious violation of Chinese laws and regulations."

The health ministry didn't respond Thursday to a request to comment on the rules, which were adopted in March but made public only this week.

The state-run Xinhua news agency on Wednesday quoted Deng Haihua, head of the ministry's information office, as saying the rules will strengthen the ministry's "management and supervision of sex health Web sites in the country to guarantee scientific and accurate information and prevent lewd content in disguise."

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