By AUDRA ANG, Associated Press Writer
China is imposing new regulations to control content on its news Web
sites, the government said Sunday, another step in its ongoing effort
to police a rapidly expanding Internet population.
The rules, issued by the Ministry of Information Industry and the
State Council, China's cabinet, will "standardize the management of
news and information" in the country, the official Xinhua News Agency
said. They take effect immediately, it said.
The report did not give any details on the regulations but said sites
should only post news on current events and politics. It did not
define what would be acceptable under those categories.
Only "healthy and civilized news and information that is beneficial to
the improvement of the quality of the nation, beneficial to its
economic development and conducive to social progress" will be
allowed, Xinhua said.
It added: "The sites are prohibited from spreading news and
information that goes against state security and public interest."
China's population of Internet users has surpassed 100 million and is
the world's second largest after the United States, which has 135
While the communist government encourages Internet use for education
and business, it also keeps an extremely tight rein over online
content, usually blocking material it deems subversive or
pornographic. Online dissidents who post essays questioning government
actions and policies or those who express their opinions in chatrooms
are regularly arrested and charged under vaguely worded state security
Earlier this month, a French media watchdog group said e-mail account
information provided by Internet powerhouse Yahoo Inc. helped lead to
the conviction and 10-year prison sentence of a Chinese journalist who
had written about media restrictions in an e-mail.
Also as part of an ongoing effort to curb potential dissent, thousands
of cybercafes -- the main entry to the Web for many Chinese unable to
afford a computer or Internet access -- have been closed.
Authorities in Shanghai have installed surveillance cameras and begun
requiring visitors to Internet cafes to register using their official
identity cards to keep tabs on who's seeing and saying what online.
The government also recently threatened to shut down unregistered Web
sites and blogs, online diaries in which users post their thoughts for
others to read.
According to Xinhua, the previous set of rules governing Internet news
was issued in 2000 and have become obsolete given the development of
technology and China's rapidly growing online community.
The new rules will "satisfy the public demand for receiving news and
information from the Internet as well as safeguard public interest,"
Copyright 2005 The Associated Press.
NOTE: For more telecom/internet/networking/computer news from the
daily media, check out our feature 'Telecom Digest Extra' each day at
http://telecom-digest.org/td-extra/more-news.html . Hundreds of new
[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: I have been advised that since the
situation with Yahoo about a month ago which led to the Chinese
writer being sent to prison, Associated Press at least has begun
giving their writers/reporters in China alias names when something
appears in print. PAT]