China's press and copyright authorities have banned foreign investors from operating online games "in any form" in the country.
A circular jointly released by the General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP) and the National Copyright Administration Saturday said foreign businesses were banned from investment in China's online game operations through setting up wholly owned enterprises, joint ventures and cooperatives.
Foreign investors were also prohibited from joining and controlling Chinese enterprises' online game operations by such indirect means as contracting relevant agreements or offering technological support.
The rule also tightened control over domestic online gaming businesses. It stated that no organizations or individuals could run online gaming business without permits from the GAPP and online games without a prior approval from the administration would not be allowed to go online.
"The new rule is a good beginning in approving the online games in accordance with laws and will be conducive to the regulation of online gaming businesses," said Kou Xiaowei, vice director of GAPP's technological and digital department.
The GAPP had carried out a campaign recently to crack down on online games operating illegally and featuring unhealthy contents. As of Thursday, more than 200 online games had been investigated and 45 overseas online games run without prior approval had been shutdown.
China had about 338 million Internet users as of June 30, topping the world, according to a latest report by the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC).