China imposes internet news reporting ban on major online companies
Mon 25 Jul 2016
The Cyberspace Administration of China has ordered major companies to stop reporting news due to the ‘huge negative effects’ of the companies’ original news reports.
According to Beijing News (Chinese), online outlets from Tencent Holdings, Sohu.com Inc, Sina Corp and NetEase Inc. are included in the crackdown. News of the restrictions are attributed to an unnamed official at CAC’s Beijing headquarters.
The Beijing News Sunday edition reported that the companies affected have ‘seriously violated’ China’s internet regulations, and that on Friday the agency ordered online news portals to dismantle ‘current affairs news’ units. Tencent was affected by the crackdown prior to the general ban, but like other news agencies will be limited henceforth to re-reporting official government releases – presumably either verbatim or with zero interpretation or addition.
President Xi Jinping’s 2016 crusade against free news reporting has proved more than controversial, not least in the west; early in March the posting of a letter on state-endorsed website Wujie News calling for Jinping’s resignation led to the detention of 20 people, including columnist Jia Jia.
In February Jinping conducted a high-profile tour of China’s most influential state-ordained media outlets, instructing editors and reporters to pledge ‘absolute loyalty’ to China’s communist party.
In April foreign news gathering organisations became subject to police registration and surveillance in China.
The Chinese government has also been investigating proposals that it mandate a 1% stake in any media outlet, thus guaranteeing the state’s board presence at meetings. According to reports, this requirement would ensure that the company in question receives a license to report the news.
Some weeks ago the role of chief internet regulator at the Cyberspace Administration was handed from Lu Wei to Xu Lin, erstwhile chief of propaganda in Shanghai. Shortly after Beijing issued a new decree warning network news providers against disseminating ‘false news’, and mandating verification.