11.9.06

China's Draconian Media Policies Get Worse

Taimiao in BeijingImage via WikipediaFOXNews.com - China Tightens Controls on Foreign Media - Asia

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The state-owned media outlet Xinhua Press today issued strict restrictions on the content distributed by foreign media on the mainland. Bloomberg summed up the scope of the new rules as follows,

Foreign news agencies are subject to approval by Xinhua and may face warnings, demands for rectification, suspension or cancellation of their qualifications to release information for breaching the rules, the statement said. 
Under the rules, foreign agencies must not release information that undermines China's national unity, sovereignty or territorial integrity; endangers China's national security, reputation and interests; or violates China's religious policies or preaches ``evil cults or superstition.'' 
The regulations also ban incitement of hatred or discrimination among ethnic groups, spreading false information, disrupting China's economic and social order, or undermining China's ``social ethics'' or cultural traditions.

Bloomberg LP, Reuters Plc and Dow Jones & Co. are among overseas companies that sell news and information to subscribers in China. Xinhua, while acting as the industry regulator, also competes with foreign news agencies to sell information.

Effectively, Beijing is drawing a line in the sand and the west is simply expected to respect China's sovereignty and stay on the other side. Unfortunately, the Chinese people have decided to go along with its government's overt attempts to drastically limit their access to information. This fact simply astonishes me, especially considering the countries growing exposure to the west and dependence on foreign markets to feed their industrialization. One would think that businesses and individuals in less accessible Chinese villages would demand access to information as the internet becomes more widely available. This could be an attempt by the communist government to institute these rules early, before the entire Chinese internet market becomes too accustomed to certain media outlets, but how can they realistically expect foreign media conglomerates not to declare all out war on the government. I think such careless decisions by the current leadership could prove disastrous in the long term, but these rules aren't set in stone and a little pressure from the west now could avert a crisis situation.



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