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China Further Tightens Control of Online News

Variety logo Variety 5/3/2017 Patrick Frater
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China has issued new regulations which further tighten state and Communist Party control of online news.

The regulations were published by the Cyberspace Administration of China, which will take over control from the State Council Information Office. The regulations take effect from June 1.

All online publishers — including websites, blog platforms, instant messaging systems and live streaming sites – that edit or select news about government, economy, military, foreign affairs, or social issues, must be licensed. Their editors must be approved by the regulator. Other staff must be government-trained and accredited.

Online news must “correctly guide public opinion” and “serve the cause of Socialism” while “safeguarding national and public interests”, the CAC said.

“Cooperation between Chinese online news service providers and entities with foreign investment should go through a security review,” reported state-owned news agency Xinhua.

The move is intended to bring new media operations closely in line with China’s traditional media, which are state-controlled and censored. The moves largely stifle the private sector in the news business.

China’s President, Xi Jinping has regularly proposed the concept that each national government should be free to set Internet standards within its own borders.

China already operates a massive system of state censorship controls. It also uses technology to block many foreign websites, apps and social media services that do not meet its national security standards. These include publications The New York Times, search engine Google, social media platforms Facebook and Twitter, and online encyclopedia Wikipedia.

Earlier this week, China announced that it would launch an official online encyclopedia. It is hiring 20,000 academics to write some 300,000 articles that would be ready by 2018. Editor-in-chief Yang Muzhi, chairman of the Book and Periodicals Distribution Association of China, described the “Encyclopedia of China” as a “Great Wall of Culture.”

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