China announces stricter controls on Internet news

Posted by Martyn

On Sunday, China’s Ministry of Information Industry, together with the State Council, announced a new set of regulations aimed at further controlling content on Internet news web sites. The regulations, details of which are yet undisclosed, are expected to impose even stricter control on news content than the last set of rules issued in 2000. The report also warned that the new rules would take effect immediately.

The regulations are intended to “standardize the management of news and information” and only allow web sites to post news about current events and politics. However, the announcement did not elaborate on what would be acceptable and unacceptable in these two categories, as AP reports:

Only “healthy and civilized news and information that is beneficial to the improvement of the quality of the nation, beneficial to its economic development and conducive to social progress” will be allowed, Xinhua said.

It added: “The sites are prohibited from spreading news and information that goes against state security and public interest.”

The new rules will “satisfy the public demand for receiving news and information from the Internet as well as safeguard public interest,” Xinhua said.

We should perhaps reserve comment until full details of the new regulations are officially announced. However, the report, with its references to ‘healthy news, conducive to social progress and safeguarding the public interest’ sounds ominous. Any further tightening of news and information would certainly be consistent with the gradual increase in censorship in recent years.

UPDATE: details of the new rules are now becoming available, check out this Joseph Kahn story. Chinese portals like will only be able to feature op-eds from official state media sources. Also, groups must register as “news organizations” before they can operate e-mail distribution lists, effectively preventing legal distribution of news via email. Existing online newspaper and magazine sites must also “give priority” to news and commentary pieces from official state media, rather than non-official/foreign news sources.

The Discussion: 7 Comments

I can guess that “unacceptable” covers any criticism of the Politburo or central Party organisation. Not forgetting words like d3m0cr4cy 😉

September 25, 2005 @ 9:13 am | Comment

I notice that posted an ap story on Li Ao’s beijing speech complete with all the quotations that did not appear in the xinhua press releases.

These new laws would effectively prevent such coverage I take it. Maybe the Internet news sites in china have not been towing the party line?

September 25, 2005 @ 7:14 pm | Comment


Please be careful about spelling d3m0cr4cy in that way. It has exactly SIX letters/digits preceding the “4”, and the censors might not like that.
The numbers 6 and four are not permitted to exist in the same universe.

September 25, 2005 @ 7:32 pm | Comment

Oh dear. Will Hu Jintao start censoring “Sesame Street” now?

Just imagine. Oscar the Grouch will start the program by saying:

“Sesame Street is being brought to you today by the letters T and S, and the numbers Six and Four…”

And then a tank will run over Oscar while the screen goes blank.

September 25, 2005 @ 8:15 pm | Comment

I think that the main thrust of the regulations is to do exactly what the report says i.e. ‘standardise’ the news. Instead of having every newspaper, magazine, web portal and even blogs sprouting their own opinions, running their own editorials and commenting on events, the rules stipulate that they must use, or at least are ‘encouraged’ to use ‘official’ editorials and op-ed pieces from the big guns of the Chinese state media.

It’s a good way to keep all news in China ‘pro-party mono-news’ such as Xinhua and the People’s Daily spew out on a daily basis and keep voices that dissent from the official line out of the media.

September 25, 2005 @ 10:14 pm | Comment

I can understand why the ccp are doing this. For decades in china the only outlets for news were party newspapers and party-controlled radio broadcasts. Easy to control, even when television cam very late to china.

Now a few advances have taken place:

Mobile phones
non-state owned TV channels
Fax machines
Instant messaging
SMS messaging

Therefore, the amounts of news channels and sources has gone from several to thousands. In addition, the methods of spreading news instantly, or at least quickly, has also exploded.

China’s one-party state cannot function with a free press, nor can it function with so many sources of news and the available methods to spread it.

The new regulations are trying to re-establish the old fashioned state controlled media as THE dominant source of party-approved news.

Again, chinese people have many choices of where to read their news but these rules will ensure that all choices will be putting out the same party-approved output.

What a sad day.

September 25, 2005 @ 10:55 pm | Comment

All the news that’s fit to print (with Chinese characteristics)

Xinhua has announced new regulations for online news as part of China’s ongoing clampdown on the net. Inevitably Mainland bloggers will be considered part of this regulation. Xinhua’s report begins:Online news sites that publish stories containing fabr…

September 26, 2005 @ 12:20 am | Comment

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