On Monday, July 25 China banned several country’s internet giants, including Sina Corp, Sohu, Phoenix and NetEase, for original news reporting and producing content that was against the country’s law.

China’s chief internet regulator offered them an ultimatum: either shut down their companies or “erase” some of their published news. On Monday evening some of the most popular programms like Sohu’s Click Today or People in News already started to dissapear from country’s largest web sources. Moreover, their social media pages were also deleted. Now the government was making it clear that publishing any unverified content and “causing extremely negative influences” might lead to serious problems from an imposition of fines to closing their firms.

 

Media is turning into a horn for propaganda of the Communists party

Communist regimen have seriously tightened, when Xi Jinping came to power in 2012. Many respectable media companies like newspaper Southern Weekend were pressed down by censorship, because of publications concerning social issues. Back then he proclaimed that media companies “must love the party, protect the party, and closely align themselves with the party leadership in thought, politics, and action”. Four years later there seem to be no premises of regimen’s easing regarding media. What is more, now so called “chinese trolls” keep an eye on internet media companies’ news and create fabricated pro-government posts.

Decision to ramp up censorship were made basing on a series of investigations of top Chinese internet companies, which revealed some “serious violations” of 2005 internet regulations. The law was unenforced until recently, and for a decade media companies were publishing their investigations being partly dependent. Latest official report published in The Paper states that among them there were a plenty of “independently gathered” news reports that caused “huge negative effects”. By that they mean pretty much any sensitive subjects from social and economic matters to political corruption and foreign affairs that seemed objectionable for the government.

Now this ban gives all the authorities to internet regulator to control the web and social media and filter off everything that doesn’t serve the policy of the Communist party. It basically mean that media is turning into a horn for propaganda of a current government’s regimen, because now journalists will have to seek for the government’s approval to publish news.

What is more, Chinese authorities have been trying to get seats in directors boards of the internet giants by purchasing their small businesss stakes in order to control the process from within. However, for that they’re offering allowance to report on daily news.

 

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So, is this the end of independent news reporting?

Over the last years some of the major Chinese internet media companies expanded their investigative team of journalists, because reports on subjects of police violation or other social concerns were highly popular among China’s internet users. However, now this ban seriously strangles their freedom of speech, which seems outrageous in a world of rapidly developing digital technologies, when people are hungry as ever for the news not concerning political propaganda.

On the other hand, getting media under control seems to be a logical move for Xi Jinping, who wants to strengthen its authority and silence possible opponents of the regimen before next year’s party congress, where the new round of seniour leaders will be picked.

For now we can’t be certain about the end of an era of investigation journalism, it depends on the following actions of the authorities. Some analysts say that the worst is yet to come and we’ll have to face more restrictions. The Chinese government is willing to protect the audience from the “vile effect” of independent journalism by taking control over thoughts and discussions and making media’s voice united and loyal to the Communists party. Others believe that censorship of online media industry won’t stay limited in the long term, because no government can regulate the natural flow of information and conceal anything from the digital generation, especially at the time of internet explosive growth.

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