China has shut down several online news operations after authorities blasted them for independently reporting and publishing articles about potentially sensitive subjects, state media said on Monday.

Major Chinese-language portals including Sina, Sohu, Netease and iFeng have closed some of their freewheeling political and social news sites and social network accounts after Beijing’s internet control department "harshly criticised" their "huge amount of activities violating the law and regulations", the Beijing News reported.

The programmes "uploaded and published a large number of news reports gathered and edited by themselves", causing "particularly vile impact", it said, citing an unnamed official with the department.

The sites are also facing fines, the official added, without giving details.

Journalists at privately operated Chinese news portals are only accredited to cover sports or entertainment events, and are required to use reports released by state-controlled media such as the official Xinhua news agency for more sensitive news related to politics and society.

But some sites, largely driven by commercial interests, have formed their own news gathering or even investigative reporting teams to compete in a high-tech era where self-reporting is flourishing and hot social issues are changing day by day.