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China: New regulations aimed at foreign media

March 5, 2016

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) expresses strong concern for new administrative regulations aimed at China-based foreign media outlets and joint ventures. The IFJ calls on the government to reevaluate the rules which will negatively impact on press freedom and foreign media.

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology announced the new regulations, Online Publication Service Management Regulations, which will be effective from March 10. According to rule 10, “Sino-foreign joint ventures, Sino-foreign cooperative ventures, and foreign business units or non-territorial organisations and individuals shall not engage in online publishing services.” If they wish to publish, they have to “get prior approval from the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT).” The legislation does not outline the approval process.

In addition, there are certain areas which are forbidden to publish, although there are no clear definitions of which areas this applies to. Under rule 24, no information is allowed to “harm national unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity, disclose state secrets, and endanger social morality or national cultural tradition.” Rule 34 says that all online units have to keep all information about published articles, including IP addresses for 60 days in order to provide to authorities in the case of investigations. Punishment for not doing so will exceed 30,000 yuan (5000 USD) and bans from working in any online media for at least one year.

The IFJ Asia Pacific Office said “The new rules are a clear attempt to further constrain freedom of expression and people’s access to information, with a specific target on foreign and join media outlets. There is a large number of foreign media outlets based in China, which these rules target. The rules can be seen as an attempt to force these outlets to self-censor in an attempt to avoid punishment.”

The IFJ urges all foreign media outlets to voice their concerns to the Chinese government and demand the rules be revoked and apply to the court for a judicial review to seek for clarity about whether the regulations have breached Chinese law and international standard.

For more information contact:
International Federation of Journalists
Phone: +61 2 9333 0946

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