Melon Farmers Original Version

News Censorship in China

State control and sensitive news


What's China planning to do?...

China opens a short public consultation on a law that would ban private companies from news reporting

Link Here 12th October 2021
Full story: News Censorship in China...State control and sensitive news
Beijing has published a draft law stating that privately funded organisations shall not engage in news-gathering, editing, and broadcasting. Officials have not confirmed whether the new rules will apply to foreign news organisations operating in China, effectively making them illegal.

The proposed new rules ban private media-related businesses as part of a prohibited list of industries. The 2021 list is a very broad ban on everything relating to the news media sector. The equivalent list from the previous year allowed private news companies subject to a size cap.

Beijing has always held a tight grip over news and information in China, and virtually all media organisations are state-run, falling directly under government purview.

The draft law is currently open for public consultation for a week.



Offsite Article: Don't mention the re-education camps...

Link Here 4th March 2019
Full story: News Censorship in China...State control and sensitive news
China's censors pull BBC broadcast from the air as it mentioned Uyghur Muslims being imprisoned

See article from



Offsite Article: The News China Didn't Want Reported in 2017...

Link Here 27th January 2018
Full story: News Censorship in China...State control and sensitive news
Leaked newspaper censorship orders hint at the regime's priorities, but tighter controls have made them harder to obtain.

See article from



Update: Western subversion blocked...

Chinese Government orders the censorship of the New York Times Apple app

Link Here 5th January 2017
Full story: News Censorship in China...State control and sensitive news
On December 23, Apple removed the Chinese versions of the newspaper's apps as well as their English counterparts in an act of compliance with a censorship order from the Chinese government.

An Apple spokesperson Fred Sainz issued this statement to TechCrunch:

For some time now the New York Times app has not been permitted to display content to most users in China and we have been informed that the app is in violation of local regulations. As a result, the app must be taken down off the China App Store.

Though it's hardly alone in reporting critically on the Chinese government, the New York Times did publish a critical look at a " a seven-and-a-half-minute phantasmagoria of the Communist Party's nightmares of Western subversion " one day prior to when the apps were pulled.



Update: Playing down democracy...

Chinese news censors demand minimal coverage of US elections but outlets told to dwell on any juicy scandals that crop up

Link Here 10th November 2016
Full story: News Censorship in China...State control and sensitive news
China's news censors ordered digital news media and other news outlets on the mainland to avoid excessive coverage of the US presidential election.

According to the South China Morning Post (SCMP), a source said Chinese censors had urged all media houses in the state to not provide any live coverage or broadcast of the poll -- the world's biggest news event of the day.

However, the media were reportedly asked not to miss out on any scandals during the vote and report them in a timely manner . The censors also allowed news media to criticise in depth political abuses in the election, said a source, who did not want to be named because the instructions were confidential.



Offsite Article: Censor grab on land grab protest...

Link Here 16th September 2016
Full story: News Censorship in China...State control and sensitive news
This week, Chinese police carried out a vicious crackdown on demonstrators in the southern Chinese fishing village of Wukan, now the authorities are trying to censor news about the protest

See article from



Update: Bowing out...

Editor of prominent Chinese newspaper resigns saying he's been bowing to government for so long, he can't stand it anymore

Link Here30th March 2016
Full story: News Censorship in China...State control and sensitive news
The editor of a prominent Chinese newspaper has published a resignation letter denouncing the country's media censorship, the latest in a series of public outbursts criticising tightening media controls under President Xi Jinping.

Yu Shaolei, a culture editor at the Southern Metropolis Daily , posted a photo of his resignation form on his Weibo social media account. In seven large Chinese characters, the resigning journalist simply said he could no longer follow your surname in a box asking his reasons for leaving.

The phrase is a clear reference to Mr Xi's high-profile visit of the country's top-level state-run news outlets last month, where he sought to remind staff members that the country's media must be surnamed party and lived to serve the government. Yu said in a Weibo post accompanying the photo of his resignation form:

This spring, let's make a clean break, I'm getting old; after bowing for so long, I can't stand it anymore. I want to see if I can adopt a new posture.

The post was swiftly deleted by internet censors.

Yu's resignation is the latest in a series of public criticism of Mr Xi's tightening media controls, highlighting the central government's evolving challenges to keep public opinion online and on social media in check.



Offsite Article: Chinese magazine challenges government over censorship...

Link Here9th March 2016
Full story: News Censorship in China...State control and sensitive news
One of China's most respected current affairs magazines has lashed out at Communist party censorship of its work

See article from



Update: Propaganda Credentials...

China issues first permission for original online news content

Link Here 10th November 2015
Full story: News Censorship in China...State control and sensitive news
China has issued its first press credentials allowing reporters to post state approved 'news' stories on websites.

The state-run Xinhua 'news' agency reports that China granted its first press credentials to online media just last week, adding:

China previously banned most websites from reporting on news, only allowing them to edit and publish news from traditional media.

Online-media reporters are expected to actively expound socialist core values and amplify the mainstream voice in the Internet, making cyberspace 'clear and bright.

That may have been the law, but it was hardly true in practice. Online-only news portals like Sina and Sohu have been reporting news for years, let alone the numerous bloggers and citizen journalists throughout the country. In theory anyone writing original news content, doing interviews, or publishing is technically breaking the law.

The first group of officially-credentialed agencies included the People's Daily, the government portal for Tibet, and Xinhua News Agency itself. So far, the only groups issued state permits to report are... state-run media agencies. No commercial (i.e. not state-run) news portals have yet been issued online press credentials.



Update: Unapproved Criticism...

China announces new laws to restrict journalism

Link Here23rd June 2014
Full story: News Censorship in China...State control and sensitive news
China has introduced new rules to restrict journalism. The rules say that journalists and their news organizations are forbidden from initiating critical reporting that has not been approved.

The new rules also prohibit a host of other journalistic activities. Reporters may not do reporting across industries or focus areas . News outlets are forbidden from establishing businesses in advertising, publishing or public relations. And they can't even circulate critical documents internally or on private websites. +

The government rules seem related to recent announcement that over 14,000 press cards had been revoked for supposedly bogus journalists. The measures also appear designed to address corruption scandals involving news outlets found to be practicing black PR, obtaining profits through paid-for content.

Update: More restrictions

17th July 2014. See  article from

The government had just announced that month that reporters were not allowed to report anything, even on their own blogs and social media sites , that had not been approved by an editor at their news organization. The announcement was aimed at heading off enterprising--and increasingly frustrated--reporters who would often release directly to their own readers information that had not survived their publications' editing and censorship processes.



Update: A Happy World...

Bloggers note effective Chinese censorship of the terrorist station attack

Link Here8th March 2014
Full story: News Censorship in China...State control and sensitive news
After last week's knife attack on Chinese people in Kunming by muslim terrorists, in which 29 people were hacked to death, the state council information office issued the following directive:

Media that report on the knife attack incident that occurred March 1 at the Kunming railway station must strictly adhere to Xinhua News Agency wire copy or information provided by local authorities.

Do not treat the story with large headlines; do not publish grisly photos. Please respond to confirm that you have received this message. Thank you.

The censorship seems to have been effective and this was noted by Chinese microbloggers. Ye Taijin wrote:

It is as if nothing happened in Kunming. If we didn't have Weibo and WeChat, we would still be living in a happy world like the one presented on the evening new on China Central Television.



Vulgar Accusations...

Chinese newspaper banned for sexy pictures in its celebrity news

Link Here6th July 2013
Full story: News Censorship in China...State control and sensitive news

The Blue Express Daily (Lan Se Kuai Bao) in Yantai city, Shandong province has been banned from publishing in the next three months because it was running supposedly vulgar content, according to its editors.

The daily, which started publishing on July 17 last year, employs more than 300 people and has a circulation of 60,000, said Editor-in-Chief Han Hao. Han said he would be negotiating with provincial publishing authorities to bring the paper back, but he believed officials would have final say on the fate of the publication.

Han told the South China Morning Post that he believed a local competitor had gone to authorities and attacked the paper for running inappropriate pictures of pretty women, which Han said were celebrity photos that appeared in the entertainment news.

The paper published a front page letter for its final issue. Although the letter doesn't explain why the paper is being shut down, Qu Quancheng, a deputy editor at the daily, cited vulgar content as a major reason that has lead to the censorship. Vulgar content , a made-up accusation, has taken down a newspaper, he wrote on Weibo. A new page in China's journalism and history has been turned.



Update: Foreign to Free Speech...

Chinese news censors ban the reporting of information from foreign news sources

Link Here 18th April 2013
Full story: News Censorship in China...State control and sensitive news

Reporters Without Borders has condemned the draconian directive that China's news censor, the General Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, issued yesterday banning the Chinese media from using unauthorized information from foreign media and websites. Reporters Without Borders said:

The censors have had the foreign media in their sights ever since they published embarrassing revelations about China's leaders. The regime is trying to prevent the Chinese media from repeating such revelations.

The international media continue to play a key role both in informing the international community about what is happening in China, and in informing the Chinese public, which is the victim of the government's growing censorship of the local media.

According to the directive:

All kinds of media work units may not use any unauthorized news products provided by the foreign media or foreign websites. They are also forbidden to use information provided by news informants, freelancers, NGOs or commercial organisations without prior verification.



Updated: A Brave Protest...

Chinese newspaper staff write open letters protesting against an editorial being censored

Link Here10th January 2013
Full story: News Censorship in China...State control and sensitive news

Journalists at a leading Chinese newspaper have called for a chief newspaper censor to resign, in a rare protest against censorship.

Prominent former staff and interns at the Southern Weekly urged the official to quit after he changed an editorial into a Communist Party tribute. They accused him of being dictatorial in an era of growing openness .

The row at the Southern Weekly - known for hard-hitting investigations and testing the limits of censorship - erupted after a new year editorial calling for guaranteed constitutional rights was changed at the last minute to one extolling the virtues of the Communist Party.

In two open letters, 35 prominent former staff and 50 interns at the paper have demanded the resignation of the provincial propaganda chief in Guangdong, Tuo Zhen. editor Zhuang Chen says it is thought to be the first time there has been a direct showdown between newspaper staff and party officials.

The row comes as the website of another liberal journal was closed after it ran an essay urging political reform. The influential online magazine, Yanhuang Chunqiu (or China Through the Ages), had called on China's leaders to guarantee constitutional rights such as freedom of speech and assembly.

Update: Street Protest

8th January 2013. See  article from

Hundreds of protesters gathered in front of the headquarters of a southern newspaper on Monday in a rare display of public anger over China's draconian censorship regulations. Many held signs calling for greater press freedom and expressing support for the newspaper's editorial employees, some of whom have gone on strike against the provincial propaganda authority's interference with a recent editorial.

Widely circulated pictures on microblogs show large groups of young people holding up handwritten anti-censorship messages and grappling with police.

This incident could mark the first time in more than two decades that the editorial staff of a major newspaper have openly staged a strike against government censorship, reported the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post.

Update: Truce

10th January 2013. See  article from

Reports from China suggest journalists at a newspaper embroiled in a censorship row are returning to work after an agreement was reached.

Staff at Southern Weekly had demanded that a top censor and propaganda chief step down after a New Year message was changed.

On Tuesday, editorial propaganda from the state-run Global Times blamed the incident on activists outside the media industry was republished on multiple news sites - the result, according to reports, of a government directive. But several major news portals carried a disclaimer saying they did not endorse the piece and a number of newspapers did not run it, in an apparent show of solidarity.

Reports citing sources both from the paper's staff and people close them said a deal to end the dispute was agreed on Tuesday evening. Thursday's edition would be published as normal and most staff would not be punished, Reuters reported.

However, online reports citing microblogs suggest the row may have widened to include a well-known daily, Beijing News.

Unconfirmed reports said its chief editor, Dai Zigeng, had resigned over pressure to publish the Global Times editorial.

Update: Jailed

27th November 2015. See  article from

China has sentenced three human rights activists to harsh prison terms for participating in an anti-censorship protest in 2013. The attorney for the three, Zhang Lei, told VOA that he is shocked and angered by the verdict, which gave a sentence of six years to activist Guo Feixiong.

Activists Liu Yuandong and Sun Desheng were sentenced to three years and 2 years, respectively, for participating in the same demonstration.

The three were charged with gathering crowds to disturb social order and Guo received the additional charge of picking quarrels and provoking trouble. Both charges are often used broadly against dissidents.

The protest they took part in was a weeklong peaceful demonstration in 2013 outside the headquarters of the Southern Weekly newspaper. The demonstrators called on Beijing to give up censorship practices that affected the paper.

Zhang said he will be filing appeals for all three of his clients.


15th November

Update: Unverifiable Sources...

China lays out new restrictions on journalists using unverified news sources

  China's press censors at the General Administration of Press and Publication have released new restrictions on journalism.

Some regulations simply reiterate journalistic best practices, others introduce new restrictions:

Reporters are required to be objective and report all sides of a story. They are prohibited from aggregating reports or relying on second-hand accounts that have not been independently verified, in particular information obtained from online sources, outside contributors, or by phone. News organizations must set up systems to guard against the publication of false reports and strengthen responsibility at all levels and through every stage of the editorial process, including the establishment of procedures to investigate errors and publish corrections and apologies.

The rules state that journalists should rely on in-person interviews, authoritative sources of information, and verifiable facts in their reporting. Critical news reports must be based on information from at least two different sources, and journalists must retain evidence of the information that has been received and verified. The use of anonymous sources is discouraged, with limited exceptions for national security, privacy or other special reasons, and reporters are cautioned against describing anonymous sources with phrases such as a person familiar with the matter, a person involved in the matter, or an authoritative person. Likewise, the use of pen names is barred, and reporters and editors involved in a story must sign their real names to it.

Crucially, the rules also reiterate that reporters must be licensed by and warns news organizations against hiring reporters on a temporary basis, eg freelancers and temps.


8th September

Off the Rails...

Beijing takes control of two newspapers in apparent response to embarrassment over unsafe trains

The Beijing propaganda bureau has taken control of two city newspapers known for bold reporting.

Some journalists blamed the development on official anger at the reporting of the fatal high-speed train crash in Wenzhou in July, although others believe it reflects a broader struggle over control of the media.

It means there will be so much we can't do, an employee of one of the affected titles said. [Before] there was news that other papers couldn't do but we could.

Previously, the papers were overseen by state level propaganda authorities. Journalists fear the switch may also restrict their ability to cover events in the capital and sensitive news from other areas.

It's been a headache for the Beijing propaganda authorities that they didn't directly control the two newspapers, Wen Yunchao, a Hong Kong-based media analyst, told the South China Morning Post: They could only influence editorial content through the help of the central publicity department.


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