China is strengthening rules for online news as it attempts to control the flow of information from messaging apps, social media, and online media to Chinese citizens. The new regulations, announced on Tuesday, would require online content publishers to obtain government licenses before posting news pieces on the internet. Even more alarming is that online publishers will have to block foreign or private investment or involvement in news production.
While these new rules won’t affect foreign news sites, the Chinese government has already banned a number of these sites in the past. With more than 700 million internet users in China, aggressive internet censorship is the primary way the government keeps tight control over the kind of information that is available.
The rules are scheduled to go into effect on 1 June, with existing news outlets subject to a security review by the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC). The CAC is the same government agency responsible for The Great Firewall.
Companies that fail to comply will have their licenses revoked and have to pay fines of up to 30,000 yuan (about $4,000).
What Does This Mean for Foreign Investors?
While specifics of the new rules have yet to be released, publishing platforms covered include websites, mobile apps, blogs, forums, and video broadcasts.
The government-operated Xinhua News Agency described the new rules as “increased security and privacy for Chinese citizens.” Unfortunately, a quick look at these rules and at Chinese President Xi Jinping’s previous policies reveals a much more sinister agenda.
Late last year, Chinese authorities passed a new cybersecurity law that essentially gave the government the right to monitor all internet traffic in the country. This law is in addition to existing measures like The Great Firewall and The Golden Shield Project, effectively giving authorities the ability to censor and monitor the internet activity of all Chinese citizens.
It’s easy to see why these policies are scaring businesses out of China. With an unpredictable and fluctuating economy, China would be better served appealing to the stability offered by long-term foreign investment.
Whether the Chinese regime actually realizes the benefits (or even wants this to happen) is a different story.
China, along with Turkey, has been the poster child of the “countries most likely to censor the internet” movement. Indeed, these new regulations only further demonstrate the scary lengths to which Chinese authorities are willing to go to keep civilians in the dark.
Sites like Google, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube are all banned in China, while news outlets like the New York Times and Wall Street Journal are also outlawed. While it remains to be seen who will be joining this list with these new rules, rest assured that freedom of the press will not be improving in China anytime soon.
As always, using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) in China is highly recommended, for citizens and foreigners alike. Browse any website you want and keep your data safe from the government with a high-quality VPN for China.
China is moving further down a slippery slope, a slide that risks freedom as a fundamental right. What do you think? Is this bad for business, or are ordinary citizens losing the most here? Leave your comments below!