China has issued a new set of «network publishing service management rules» that effectively block foreign media companies from operating in the country.
Regulation 10 of the new rules, due to come into force on March 10, specifies: «Sino-foreign joint ventures, Sino-foreign cooperative ventures and foreign business units must not engage in network publishing services.» Every kind of online publishing is affected: «texts, pictures, maps, games, animation, audio-video and reading matter, in fields such as literature, art, science,» whether original or digitised versions of pre-existing works. As that makes clear, this includes films, music, and even computer games.
In addition, the new rules—which were hammered together by the State Administration of Press, Publication, Film, Radio and Television, and Ministry of Industry and Information Technology—require that Chinese media seek approval in advance before they can work with foreign businesses of any kind: «Network publishing services units cooperating on projects with mainland Sino-foreign joint ventures, Sino-foreign co-operative ventures and foreign businesses, or foreign organizations or individuals, shall report State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television for approval in advance.»
Article 8 of the regulations stipulates that all the servers and storage devices necessary for running the online publishing operation must be located within China, while Article 23 requires publishers to institute a self-censorship system to vet all materials before they are published.
There is some doubt about whether these extreme measures banning foreign media companies from online publishing in China will actually be put into practice. An article on Quartz points out that China’s State Internet Information Office is in charge of Internet policy, not the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology or the State Administration of Press, Publication, Film, Radio and Television. Whether the former is in agreement with the proposals, or there is some kind of power struggle going on over who is in charge of this important domain is unclear.
In any case, this latest move is entirely of a piece with President Xi Jinping’s continuing clampdown on Internet freedom.
Back in July last year, Ars reported on regulations aimed at giving the authorities greater control over every aspect of the online world in China. Stopping foreign publishers from even appearing on it would represent a logical next step.
Source: Ars Technica