China's crackdown on Internet pornography will be extended to health-related sex information, according to new regulations that tighten supervision of such content.
Authorities will monitor such information to prevent obscene content slipping through and stop pornographic operations posing as health websites, said the rules posted Wednesday on the health ministry website.
"It is strictly forbidden to disseminate vulgar content in the name of spreading sexual knowledge," it said.
The new regulation comes as China steps up a campaign to wipe out Internet pornography.
The government last week accused web giant Google of providing links to obscene content and has told computer makers that all personal computers sold from July 1 must be shipped with anti-pornography software.
The regulation said any websites posting health-related sexual research must clearly state the source of the information and have it verified by an expert as correct and science-based.
Violators would face fines of 3,000-10,000 yuan (440-1,460 dollars) in the case of non-commercial websites and more than 10,000 yuan for commercial sites.
The China Daily newspaper said the regulation applied to websites that bill themselves as health-based, including those run by research institutes and private companies.
However, the paper said authorities should make sure access to legitimate sex information is not cut off, calling it a key sexual education tool.
Despite three decades of opening to the outside world, open discussion of sex in China remains subdued compared to the West.
The education ministry in December called for sex education to begin as early as primary school, state media reported at the time, amid fears about AIDS and unwanted pregnancies.
The reports said previously such education did not begin until high school, with students left to read the information on their own.
China blocks Internet content it deems unhealthy, which has included pornography and information critical of the government, a censorship system dubbed the "Great Firewall of China."