Tue, Jul 26, 2016 - Page 6 News List

China shuts down online news operations

WEB SITE CRACKDOWN:The government is said to have shut down 1,475 Web sites and deleted more than 12,000 Internet accounts in the second quarter this year

AFP, BEIJING

China has shut down several online news operations after authorities blasted them for independently reporting and publishing articles about potentially sensitive subjects, state media said yesterday.

Major Chinese-language portals, including Sina, Sohu, Netease and iFeng, have closed some of their freewheeling political and social news sites and social network accounts after Beijing’s Internet control department “harshly criticized” their “huge amount of activities violating the law and regulations,” the Beijing News reported.

The programs “uploaded and published a large number of news reports gathered and edited by themselves,” causing “particularly vile impact,” it said, citing an unnamed official with the department.

The online news sites are also facing fines, the official added, without giving details.

Journalists at privately operated Chinese news portals are only accredited to cover sports or entertainment events and are required to use reports released by state-controlled media, such as Xinhua news agency, for more sensitive news related to politics and society.

However, some sites, largely driven by commercial interests, have formed their own news gathering or even investigative reporting teams to compete in a high-tech era where self-reporting is flourishing and hot social issues are changing day by day.

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) brooks no opposition to its rule and the nation’s newspapers, Web sites and broadcast media are strictly controlled by the government, while an army of censors patrol social media to delete comments deemed taboo. Many Western news Web sites are blocked within the nation.

Controls have tightened considerably since Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) took office in 2013.

In February last year, Xi made a pointed visit to state broadcaster CCTV, where he said that media should focus on “positive reporting,” and “speak the [CCP’s] will and protect the [CCP’s] authority and unity.”

In the second quarter of this year alone, the government shut down or revoked the licenses of 1,475 Web sites and deleted more than 12,000 Internet accounts in a crackdown on “illegal online information,” the Cyberspace Administration of China said in a statement on Friday last week.

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