censorship-chinaBEIJING – In its continuing campaign to snuff out China-bound pornography on the Internet, the Chinese government has warned companies that provide third party billing that they should cease providing such services to companies that sell pornography and other lewd material online.

The warning, via the police, came on the heels of an investigation into a case in north China’s Hebei Province in which people were charged for selling memberships to porn sites using third-party payment services, according to the Shanghai Daily.

“Police in Hebei found that 23 people who allegedly owned and ran the “Love City” Website had gained 800,000 yuan (US$117,068) by selling more than 8,000 memberships through payment platforms such as AliPay, PayPal and YeePay,” the paper reported.

Service providers were warned that that they could be charged with complicity if they continued to deliberately provide such services. To drive the point home, the Ministry of Public Security, which made the announcement Monday, named Chinese portal Tencent Inc for “spreading lewd information,” saying the QQ personal blog spaces operated by the company were one of the largest sources of pornography and lewd content.

The announcement also mentioned two men who were arrested in recent months for making and posting supposedly lewd content to QQ. One of the men was reportedly paid in a virtual currency called “Q Money.”

In addition to its direct campaign against online pornography, the warning also indicates China’s intent to gain control of the use and proliferation of virtual – or universal – currencies, which can theoretically be used to purchase any products online, including hard goods that also can be purchased in a store.

A burgeoning market, the development and proliferation of universal currencies already is a fact of life in virtual worlds as well as the video game industry. Their use in adult entertainment is currently limited to a few companies, but is expected to grow exponentially in the coming years.