Chinese government tighten grip with new media regulation

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) voices concerns for the online media regulation that will be implemented in June 2017. The IFJ calls on the government to withhold the regulation’s implementation until proper public consultations are held.

On May 2, the Cyberspace Administration Bureau of China issued a new set of regulations for online communication channels under the guise of safeguarding national interest. Under the new regulations, online communication channels will not be allowed to report, publish or disseminate any kind of news unless they apply for a license from the Bureau. Additional Internet Service Providers (ISPs) should provide ‘positive guidance’ for the new regulations and ‘safeguard national interest’.

According to section 5 of the regulations, websites, software applications, forums, blogs, microblogs, social media accounts, instant messaging services and websites that provide news reports, comments of any kind of public affairs and news, must apply for a license from the Bureau. Failing to do so could lead to them be taken offline. Under section 7, it specifically states that no foreign investments will be allowed to provide internet services unless they apply for approval from the authorities, and undergo a ‘security assessment’. Those found to be breaching the regulation will face fines or jail time. Section 21endorses the current practice by the Bureau of maintaining a ‘black list’ and ‘interrogation system’ for ISPs who have breached the regulation 

The practices and rules outlined in the new regulation are not new, however this latest step simply formalises them. By including blogs and microblogs the authorities are addressing the growing number of dissident bloggers that are serving as ‘independent news sources’ in China, as the government crackdown continues.

Many Mainlanders voiced concerns for the new regulation, but queried if it was simply a move by the government to create a ‘safe’ environment in the lead up to the 19th National People’s Congress later this year.

The IFJ Asia Pacific office said: “This latest regulation demonstrates the complete disregard and disrespect by the authorities of the Chinese Constitution which guarantees the people’s right to free speech and press freedom. The blatant disregard for the people by not including public consultation in the development of this regulation shows the authoritarian nature of the Xi government.”  

"We urge President Xi to respect and defend the people’s rights while there is no mutual exclusion between individual rights and national security. We hope Xi demands the Bureau to implement a comprehensive consultation before take this new set of regulation in effective."

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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