Online crackdown sees online sites shut down en-masse

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) strongly criticises the recent crackdown by the Cyberspace Administration of China on online media, with several online outlets shut down. The IFJ demands an immediate investigation into the actions and demands.

According to Paper.cn, an online Shanghai-based media, on July 24, the Cyberspace Administration of China office in Shanghai accused several media outlets including, Sina, Sohu, NetEase and Phoenixof violating section 16 of the Provision on Administration of Internet News Information Service, which stipulates that only approved online media outlets can produce original news coverage and reports. The office demanded four of the online outlets to shut down or ‘clean up their programs’. The report said that programs included two from Sina, three from Sohu, one from Phoenix and three from NetEase.

According to the New York Times, the Cyberspace Administration Office’s statement actually said that it was investigating eight internet companies and accused them that, ‘ideological thinking wasn’t high enough, and they have blindly chased after economic gains’. According to the NYT, the statement highlighted Tencent and Phoenix.

On July 1, Tencent received a report from the authorities, after a typographical error in a news report about Chinese President Xi Jinping. The report said that the error “excluded an important speech.” Although Tencent admitted it was a typographical error, the Central Propaganda Department ignored the explanation and immediately sent in an investigating team to the offices. On July 21, Ming Pao Daily reported that the publisher and the editor-in-chief of Tencent, Wang Yongzhi were removed. Wang is a veteran journalist and had worked at several online media outlets, including state-owned Xinhua.

Many commentators believe that the recent crackdown is a result of the Tencent typo.

The Cyberspace Administration’s statement said that the Shanghai office was going to increased its management of all local online media, to ensure order of online services.

The IFJ Asia Pacific Office said: “The crackdown on online media is an attempt by the authorities to ensure the online media becomes a ‘mouthpiece’ for the government. Online media outlets have been producing original reports long before this recent crackdown, without interference from the Administration. There is no way to stop people seeking out news when they are fed up with the monopolised news production of the state media.”

We urge Xi Jinping, President of China and Li Keqiang, Premier of China, to demand the Cyberspace Administration to issue a report and explanation regarding the recent crackdown.   

For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0946 

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries

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