BEIJING, March 18 (UPI) -- China's most popular online chat room, hosted by Beijing's Tsinghua University, has been closed to non-students to limit the exchange of ideas on the Internet.
Operators of the chat room at the Shuimu Tsinghua website (www.smth.org) posted a message saying that non-students would no longer be able to log on, the South China Morning Post reported Friday.
The university is China's foremost for science and technology, and the chat room has become famous for its intellectual debate and social commentary, as well as updates on information technology.
Its popularity is comparable to that of Beijing University chat room, which had 30,000 users before it was shut in September.
New rules from the Ministry of Information Industry go into effect Sunday, and will hold chat room operators liable for any "objectionable content" on their sites. All Tsinghua users were required to register under their true identities by Tuesday of this week.
The Ministry of Education has issued a circular on strengthening "political thought" at universities, and the Communist Party's Propaganda Department has increased its monitoring of cyberspace for subversive trends, the report said.
As a result, Weblog portals have discouraged their users from discussing political or sensitive topics.