Press Freedom in China Bulletin: NOVEMBER

Student leader Billy Fung discusses Hong Kong independence, which saw Viu TV program pulled. Credit: Anthony Wallace/AFP

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In this bulletin:

1)China New Cyber Security Law enacted

2)New regulations released to control online live streaming services

3)Headline deleted due to not strictly followed order

4)President Xi Jinping calls on journalists to promote Party’s theories

5)Retired military officers protest but no reports published

6)Six media outlets accused of disseminating false reports

7) Hong Kong television self-censor “Hong Kong Independence” reports

8)Macau media barred from covering Premier Keqiang visit


1)    China New Cyber Security Law enacted

China’s new Cyber Security Law was passed by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress on November 7, and will take effect from June 2017. The law has been developed under the guide of ‘protecting national security’ and imposes significant burdens on service providers, requiring that they retain all data in China and hand the data over to authorities when requested. On November 11, 40 foreign internet companies sent a letter to the Office of the Central Leading Group for the Cyberspace Affairs expressing serious concerns regarding the new Law and stating how such a law could jeopardise business relations. The IFJ made submissions regarding the law during the drafting period in 2015, calling for revisions to the law so not to hinder press freedom and freedom of expression.

2)    New regulations released to control online live streaming services

On November 4, the Cyber Space Administration released a new set of regulations to control all online live streaming services. The regulations demand that all service providers censor all content before allowing it to be posted publically. At the same time, the service providers and content releasers have to obtain qualifications from the departments. The department will create a black list system. The regulation will take effect on December 1, 2016. In September, the National Administration of Surveying, Mapping and Geo information and the Office of the Central Leading Group for Cyberspace Affairs criticised a large number of online maps that have not been approved. The authorities have ordered stricter regulations for using maps in order to protect “National sovereignty and interests”.

3)    Headline deleted due to not strictly followed order

On 28 October, The Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee finished the key meeting, ‘The sixth plenary session of the 18th CPC Central Committee’. Before the meeting, the state-media China Central Television produced a series of programmes to echo the themes of the meeting. However, the Central Propaganda Department demanded all media to use the reports from CCTV, including the headlines. Jiansu-based Modern Express Daily, however, used another word to replace the original headline on their website. The Cyber Space Administration ordered the media to remove the headline from their website.

4)    President Xi Jinping calls on journalists to promote Party’s theories

On November 8, China’s Journalist Day, President Xi Jinping urged Mainland China’s Journalists to correctly follow the party line. He said professional media workers should make more of an effort to promote the Party’s theories and policies and direct the public toward a “positive energy”.    

5)    Retired military officers protest but no reports published

On October 11, numerous retired military officers protested in front of the Beijing military building because they wanted to return to the military. No Mainland media reported the protest. On October 22, a few Hong Kong media organisations reported that one of the retired military officers was punished with ten days of administrative detention by police because he allegedly organised the protest.     

6)    Six media outlets accused of disseminating false reports

On 10 Nov, the Central Propaganda Department and ten other departments announced that six media outlets were punished after they had published false or inaccurate news report from 11 July 2015 to 7 June 2016. The punishment involved being reprimanded, fined and removed from position. Media outlets punished included Xinan Evening Daily , Guangzhou Daily,  Nanhu Evening Daily, Hua Xi Metropolitan Daily, China Times and the Legal Weekly. 

7)    Hong Kong television self-censor “ Hong Kong Independence” reports

On October 21, Hong Kong-based Viu TV, was suspected of self-censorship after it decided not to air a programme, due to discussions on Hong Kong independence. Billy Fung, former Chairperson of the Hong Kong Student Union and pro-independence, and Wang Dan, a former student leader from 1989 and anti-independence, were due to appear on Viu TV to discuss political ideologies. However, on October 18, the pair flew to Japan and attended a press conference, during which Billy voiced his ideas about Hong Kong independence. Following the press conference, Viu TV announced the program would not air, noting the reasons that Billy had disseminated independence ideology through their media, and by holding the press conference had violated their cooperation. Billy has refuted the claims by Viu TV, revealing that it was the program that organised the press conference. It is not against the law in Hong Kong for people to discuss Hong Kong independence.8) Macau media barred from covering Premier Keqiang visitOn 10 October, Li Keqiang, Premier of China, visited Macau for a few days but not all registered media outlets were allowed to participate in all arranged programmes by Macau Government. An outspoken and independent online media accused of receiving an unfair treatment by the local Government because of they were only allowed to attend three events out of twelve but the rest of the other traditional media outlets were allowed to attend all of them.

IFJ Asia-Pacific

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