The Chinese government has threatened to shut down the news services of internet giant Sina Corp, if it fails to comply with regulations, given the "massive" number of public complaints about them.

Sina, which also owns the country's largest microblogging website Sina Weibo, has been under the scanner of the government over spreading content deemed as illegal.

The country's internet regulator Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) summoned leaders of Sina to a meeting on 10 April, over "massive numbers of public complaints about its law violations," state-owned Xinhua news agency reported.

The report said CAC received more than 6,000 complaints about Sina, the highest for any web portal in the country.

According to the complaints, Sina has spread illegal information related to rumours, violence and terrorism, pornography, swindling, advocation of heresies. In addition, it has been accused of distorting news facts, violating morality and engaging in media hype.

The CAC also said Sina has published some false news and its censorship of content has been poor.

The regulator asked Sina to correct its policies and strengthen internal management. It also warned that Sina would have to face harsh punishments, including a complete shut-down of internet news services.

Sina Weibo, known as the Chinese Twitter, has played a major role in the growth of social media in China. The service has been used by more than 300 million people in the country.

Ever increasing use of the internet and social networks gave Chinese people new opportunities for self-expression, but a number of anti-government posts alerted the government and it started censoring internet content.

In 2013, Weibo suffered a steep decline in the number of users in 2013, with about 28 million people abandoning the service, according to an earlier report from the China Internet Network Information Centre.

The fall was primarily due to a government crackdown on so-called "rumour mongers" – people who spread rumours about the ruling Communist party and the government online.