China Suppresses Internet and Mass Media Freedoms Anew; Tougher Censorship Rules in Place

By | May 07, 2017 10:27 PM EDT
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Declaration of Internet Freedom. (Photo : Center for Democracy and Technology)

Chinese president Xi Jinping and the Communist Party of China (CPC) he heads have further suppressed internet freedoms in China with a new set of dictatorial regulations meant to stifle online dissent and ensure Xi's hold on power as China's undisputed strongman.

Xi is disguising another power grab under the excuse of upholding China's "cyber sovereignty." His aim is to ensure his control over the internet and stamp-out of opposition to his increasingly dictatorial rule.

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Xi affirmed the CPC can and will censor online discussions as part of a five-year cultural development and reform plan released by the party and State Council. This plan calls for eradicating internet freedoms and mandates a "perfecting" of laws and rules to attain this aim.

"Strike hard against online rumors, harmful information, fake news, news extortion, fake media and fake reporters," said Chinese state-controlled media.

Xi has ordered the media to follow the party line; uphold the correct guidance on public opinion and promote "positive propaganda," meaning no criticisms of him or the CPC.

The new censorship also orders Chinese internet outlets to focus on "positive propaganda" portraying China in a positive light while extirpating news that damages China's image.

"Strengthen and improve supervision over public opinion," exhorted Chinese communist propaganda.

Beijing last week issued stricter rules targeting online news portals and network providers. It said this new crackdown on internet freedoms is necessary in the face of growing security threats.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) strongly condemned this new move by China to impose more stringent controls on the media and free expression by requiring strict licensing requirements for virtually all forms of news distribution.

Based in New York, CPJ is an American independent non-profit, non-governmental organization that promotes press freedom and defends the rights of journalists worldwide.

The new regulations, issued by the Cyberspace Administration of China, require that news websites be incorporated in China and be managed by a Chinese citizen. Joint ventures involved in gathering or disseminating news need special security clearance.

Business and news operations are to be separated, with only publicly-funded news gathering operations allowed. A range of fines, generally up to US$4,353, is specified for different infractions, which may also be referred for criminal investigation.

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