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China to Control Reports of Foreign News Agencies 268

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the can't-stop-the-censors dept.
afa writes "According to Xinhuanet.com, Xinhua News Agency on Sunday promulgated a set of measures to regulate the release of news and information in China by foreign news agencies. From the article: 'Where a foreign news agency violates the Measures in one of the following manners, Xinhua News Agency shall give it a warning, demand rectification within a prescribed time limit, suspend its release of specified content, suspend or cancel its qualifications of a foreign news agency for releasing news and information in China, on the merits of each case.'"
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China to Control Reports of Foreign News Agencies

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  • However you slice it, that is bad.
  • Had enough yet? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Schraegstrichpunkt (931443) on Tuesday September 12, 2006 @03:32AM (#16087046) Homepage
    Is it just me, or is it completely unacceptable that the thoughts of over one-sixth of the world's population are being controlled by an unelected committee of 150 people?
    • by Chas (5144) on Tuesday September 12, 2006 @04:17AM (#16087139) Homepage Journal
      Screw that! It's completely unacceptable that the thoughts of one-sixth of the world's population be controlled by ANYONE, elected or otherwise.
    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by advocate_one (662832)
      and this is different in the USA???
    • on the whims of one person elected by 20 millions ?
  • Key scary bits... (Score:5, Informative)

    by tygerstripes (832644) on Tuesday September 12, 2006 @03:42AM (#16087063)
    From TFA:
    to promote the dissemination of news and information in a sound and orderly manner
    That's how they're calling it, anyway. Spin it right and the People will swallow anything.
    Foreign news agencies shall not directly solicit subscription of their news and information services in China
    So, no internationally recognised (relatively) independent news agency can even advertise. Period. I might have presented a slightly skewed interpretation of "solicit", but that's a bit crappy anyway.
    In using news and information from a foreign news agency, the user in China shall clearly indicate the sources and shall not transfer them to another party in any form....penalties for violations in the releasing, distributing or using of news and information from a foreign news agency in China
    So if you do access news from a foreign agency - whether vetted or not by the Xinhua New Agency - it is illegal to pass on that information. Fuck me, that's horrible.

    And from the submitted article it seems that they're even prepared to revoke the state-defined status of any international news-agency who contravenes these measures in any way.

    What also bothers me is the notion of vetting this stuff at source. Are the XNA going to demand that news agencies do as Google have done, procuding a secondary, vetted, approved version of the news? Google argued their case for doing so to the international web community (successfully or otherwise, depends on your POV - they're getting the revenue from it anyway), but most international news agencies pride and extol themselves for their independence and impartiality. Will they bow to the same pressure in order to, as Google said (again, my own interpretation), "gain a foothold in China and at least keep its information borders actively moving traffic, however restricted"?

    Scary stuff indeed.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by jandersen (462034)
      You are quoting selectively and with a clear bias - in the hope, I think, that you can score some points with the big majority of /. readers who will never read the article. So to balance your quotes a bit, here are some more:

      ... news and information released in China by foreign news agencies shall not contain any of the following that serves to: ...

      -- undermine China's national unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity;

      -- endanger China'
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by tygerstripes (832644)
        Yes, I can see that this sort of thing goes on in the US. I am, after all, from the UK, and view such things with a mixture of horror and pity. So before you continue your Merkin-bashing crusade here, stop and breathe.

        From the very quote you've chosen, "undermine China's national unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity" seems to me to be, to use your terms, "horribly bad and oppressive". It is a totally subjective and unqualified restriction which may interpreted by the XNA in any way the current regi

        • I just wanted to say thank you for articulating that so well.
        • Yes, I can see that this sort of thing goes on in the US. I am, after all, from the UK, and view such things with a mixture of horror and pity.

          Er, why? I'm from the UK too and under no illusions that we are some paragon of virtue when it comes to free flows of information. Shall I quote from a story recently published in the Telegraph [telegraph.co.uk]?

          Managers from [Dounreay nuclear power plant] assured him that the event was a one-off. But since then, 66 more particles have been found. The latest comes from rods that

          • I'm not on my high-horse about the UK at all - god knows we've got our own skeletons. I was just pointing out that, apropos of nothing, the guy had jumped to the completely incorrect conclusion that I was from the US.

            Just for the record, I think you're right on every count.

      • So while we are on the topic of not jumping to conclusions, let's analyze this even further. China is known to have classified weather reports for specific regions as being a national secret. The US, on the other hand, has (yet) to do anything as egregious as that. So the majority's initial reaction to this is not any indication of bias - it is merely an indication that the Chinese government has a history of defining things in a way that would get the US government thrown out in a blood bath (electoral or
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Stormwatch (703920)
        undermine China's national unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity;
        *cough* Tibet *cough* Taiwan *cough*
        endanger China's national security, reputation and interests;
        Reputation, meaning: "don't say anything bad about us, or else..."
        violate China's religious policies or preach evil cults or superstition;
        So much for freedom of belief.
      • uhhh... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by circletimessquare (444983) <circletimessquare@NoSpaM.gmail.com> on Tuesday September 12, 2006 @05:23AM (#16087260) Homepage Journal
        you realize, of course, that that list translates into not being allowed to criticize the chinese government, right?

        you can think of gw bush govt anyway you want... actually, that's the whole point: you can sit here on slashdot or anywhere else and criticize gw bush and his govt all you want

        but if you were to criticize the govt in china?

        you would be raise the attention of these nice people [nytimes.com]

        so at best, you are naive, at worst, you are seriously deluded about what really goes on in china

        basically, you see the innocuous language above, "to protect chinese sovereignty" etc, and take those bureaucratic words at their least harmful interpretation

        oh if only that were the truth

        but i am afraid you are quite mistaken about what really goes in china with censorship

        go ahead, search the internet, do some research on the subject if you don't believe me. confirm what i am saying via multiple sources from multiple countries

        and keep in mind while you are doing that research that someone in china could not be doing the same thing: their access is filtered and watched

        next time, please educate yourself a little before you start screaming high holy moral indignation

        you're just revealing your own ignorance about reality

      • Absolute bullshit (Score:5, Insightful)

        by mcc (14761) <amcclure@purdue.edu> on Tuesday September 12, 2006 @06:01AM (#16087354) Homepage
        endanger China's national security, reputation and interests
        Now, which part of the above is horribly bad and oppressive?

        I cannot believe there is anyone in the world who would actually fall for something this transparent. On the offchance you're just stupid and not trying to actually deceive people, let's turn this around for a minute. Although not everyone who reads this site is American, and neither the article nor the post you are replying to mention America, you seem to want really badly to distract us from thinking about China and get us to think about America instead. You want to talk about America? Fine. Let's talk about America.

        Let's talk about the Bush Administration. Everything the Bush Administration has done in the last five years, they have done in the name of preventing people from "endangering America's national security, reputation and interests".

        Are there, say, any things the Bush Administration has done in the last five years that you disagree with?

        If so, why? After all, they were only trying to prevent the endangering of America's national security, reputation and interests.

        Let's say the Bush Administration announced they were going to start banning importing or reading of foreign newspaper articles or websites that "endanger America's national security, reputation and interests". Would you at all mistrust them with that power? Would you complain?

        If so, why? In this hypothetical example, they say they're only going to go after publications which "endanger America's national security, reputation and interests". What's so horribly bad and oppressive about that?

        And the answer of course is obvious, which is that something like "endangering national security, reputation and interests" is so vague that if you write a blank check to anyone in a position of governmental power to take action aginst it, they can define "national security, reputation and interests" to suit their own needs and use that blank check to shut down simply anything and anybody they don't like. Likewise, pretty much anything that tries to hold any government accountable for its actions can be easily labelled by that government "undermin[ing] national unity". Almost any group any government doesn't like can be easily labelled an "evil cult". I don't think I need to explain the problem with the clause "include[s] other content banned by Chinese laws and administrative regulations".

        Which part of Xinhua's little announcement/article is horribly bad and oppressive? The whole thing. It's dressed up in pretty language, sure, but hey, fascism always is.

        What China is doing here is unambiguously, unconditionally wrong, and what America is or isn't doing has absolutely nothing to do with that. You can try to make excuses for China; you can be an instrument of a totaltarian government if for some reason you get off on that. But you can't change what China is doing by dressing it up with pretty words.

        In the meanwhile, I never cease to be saddened to see how much mileage propagandists can get out of accusing others of "bias"...
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Andy Gardner (850877)
          endanger China's national security, reputation and interests

          Although we dont have any specifc laws stating this if the media asks the right questions (or wrong as it were) and crosses the line then then the shit hits the fan. Of course nobody goes to jail like perhaps might happen in China but you can be sure heads will roll, which has the same effect of keeping things in check. Take the Andrew Gilligan [wikipedia.org]/Greg Dyke [wikipedia.org] business a few years ago. The UK government released a dossier [wikipedia.org] outlining the justification for

        • What China is doing here is unambiguously, unconditionally wrong, and what America is or isn't doing has absolutely nothing to do with that.

          Totalitarian regimes have always benefitted from America and Europe's useful idiots [wikipedia.org]. This site is positively brimming with them.

      • by caudron (466327)

        And I think I'm actually being kind here, calling the average American biased.

        You're not. You're being mildly passive-aggressive, insulting, and blinding yourself to reality in the process. Let me help (see, that's real passive-aggressive behavior!):

        Now, which part of the above is horribly bad and oppressive?

        The part you chose to drop where it says "undermine social ethics or the fine cultural traditions of the Chinese nation [and] include other content banned by Chinese laws and administrative regulation

      • by sadr (88903)
        Let's see:

        If you report that the Chinese government is systemically jailing a class of people, that would undermine China's national unity.

        If you report that the Chinese government is using slave labor to do something, that hurts China's reputation.

        If you report that the Chinese government is performing industrial espionage, that hurts their interests.

        If you report on their treatment of religious minorities or otherwise exercise what we in the US would consider our First Amendment rights, you violate their
    • I don't know about you but after this part:

      <i>"According to Xinhuanet.com</i>

      I stopped reading. Take your own stand and don't even listen to this kind of crap coming from known liars and murders.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 12, 2006 @03:42AM (#16087064)
    As someone who is in China, I read the English version of the "China Daily" as often as it is delivered to me.

    This is a paper you would be within your rights to class as an "official English newspaper" from the Chinese government.

    But guess what?

    It contains mistakes. The reports found within, if they are the official story, are erroneous.

    As alarming as it may be that the Chinese Government is trying to control what foreign publications publish in China, what is of greater concern is the dubious accuracy of their own reporting.

    A case in point is a recent *front page* story on a lake where all of the fish died. The story in the paper ran with the excuse of the water temperature dropping from 40C down to 20C. If you do some research on oxygenation of water, you will find that the opposite is true: a lower water temperature holds more oxygen. Which then leads you to wonder, what really happened? (Most likely the continued hot weather caused the water to become too hot and the fish were going to die whether the temperature dropped or not.)

    This is not an isolated incident in the reports I read of the English version of "China daily".

    Until the Chinese can get the facts and figures straight/correct, punishing outside news agencies for reporting something differently than the "official story" is ridiculous.

    FWIW, if you watch CNN, on the weekend they ran a story about 30 years after Mao's death. In China this was shown up until the point of where it started to show black and white film.
    • That's just journalism though isn't it. Read any western news report on anything technical/computer related anytime soon and the factual mistakes just jump out at you.
    • A case in point is a recent *front page* story on a lake where all of the fish died. The story in the paper ran with the excuse of the water temperature dropping from 40C down to 20C. If you do some research on oxygenation of water, you will find that the opposite is true: a lower water temperature holds more oxygen. Which then leads you to wonder, what really happened? (Most likely the continued hot weather caused the water to become too hot and the fish were going to die whether the temperature dropped or

  • Olympic schizophenia (Score:5, Interesting)

    by 1u3hr (530656) on Tuesday September 12, 2006 @03:43AM (#16087065)
    With the Beijing Olympics in 2008, they're obliged to allow foreign news reporters virtually free access. But at the same time the old guard is deeply suspicious of foreign media. So you see opening on one hand, clamp down with the other. The country needs the Internet for business, but wants to lock it down to prevent free political discussion. Obviously self-contradictory policies like these can't work practically. In the long run, the media will be free, but in the short term, a lot of people could get ground up. For instance, several reporters, ethnic Chinese but usually foreign citizens, are in jail for long terms for "espionage", reporting "state secrets" for reporting economic statistics, or interviewing people the government would rather stay out of the limelight.

    As 2008 approaches, look for a lot of activity on this front.

    • by kamapuaa (555446)
      But at the same time the old guard is deeply suspicious of foreign media.

      If only! "Old guard" implies that it's a limited faction of the reactionary wing of the party - probably in fact, old people with a temporary hold on power. Really, the tightening of media & Internet controls has been stepped up under the rule of Hu Jintao, who can be viewed as a pretty mainstream Chinese political figure, otherwise in favor of a more international China.

      And honestly I don't see the Beijing 2008 Olympics as a g

      • by 1u3hr (530656)
        And honestly I don't see the Beijing 2008 Olympics as a great force for open reporting. That lasts 3 weeks or so?

        There has been a media build up for over a year now, which will intensify. Sure, many will parachute in just for the opening day. Recall that one reason the Tiananmen demonstrations built up in 1989 was the concentration of world press there to see a summit with Gorbachev. Obviously China won't let anything like that happen again, but with thousands of reporters around, and the security forces

  • by Mr2cents (323101)
    How funny, in Orwell's 1984 the party did also "demand rectifications" of facts. They weren't falsifying historic records, noooo sir. The party had it's thruth, and the press had to follow. If the party changed it's mind, all records had to be changed too. In fact, it has always been that way.
  • the Measures... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by svunt (916464) on Tuesday September 12, 2006 @03:59AM (#16087097) Homepage Journal
    If The Measures isn't the best Orwellian name possible for a set of repressive rules, I don't know what is.
  • Why the surprise? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Swampwulf (875465) on Tuesday September 12, 2006 @04:29AM (#16087164)
    No one of any import has ever bothered to stand up to the news agencies there up till now. No one wants to risk having access to all those Chinese revenues cut off.
    Seems simple logic to me. Give a bully what he demands often enough and they begin to see it as their right.
  • by saihung (19097) on Tuesday September 12, 2006 @04:38AM (#16087179)
    So the cost of being a journalist in China is that you're not allowed to be a journalist in China?
    Stuff 'em. If all they want is sanitized misinformation, let them manufacture it themselves. They make everything else anyway, so it shouldn't be a big deal.
  • 'Where a foreign news agency violates the Measures in one of the following manners, Xinhua News Agency shall give it a warning, demand rectification within a prescribed time limit, suspend its release of specified content, suspend or cancel its qualifications of a foreign news agency for releasing news and information in China, on the merits of each case.'

    If only the US's news censorship policy were this straightforward and clearly documented, it'd be a lot easier to comply with it! Maybe China can set an

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by afa (801481)

      IMHO, cannot agree with you.

      Since the most questionable in laws and measures of China is that almost every, if not all, clauses have such saying as 'And conditions claimed by other laws and measures.', which empower the judiciary too much variabilities.

      Note that China follows the German system of laws, instead of Britain one that U.S. follows.

      Though the PRC legal system is a large civil law system, reflecting the influence of Continental Europe legal systems especially German civil law system in the 19

      • by Submarine (12319)
        It is, in my humble opinion, rather ridiculous to group together Germany and China on the one hand, the US on the other hand, if only because in China there is no real "rule of law" - that is, a lot of things are subject to arbitrary decisions.
  • Major news agency can outsource thier reporting operations to "independent" reporters, who could send their reports encripted. Soviet Russia [:)] tried to enforce such a ban, during the time than there was no internet and international phone conversation were few and expensive, with very limited success. All that they achievd was that mostly worst and exaggerated news got out and created "Empire of Evil" image.
  • by LemonFire (514342) on Tuesday September 12, 2006 @05:28AM (#16087275) Homepage
    I just can't help thinking that the new Great Digital Wall of China will be as ineffective to stop the information flow as the old Great Wall of China was at stopping The Manchus around 400 years ago.

    Unfortunately?? there will be no traces left after the digital one... once this is past history.

    "The grass is not, in fact, always greener on the other side of the fence. Fences have nothing to do with it. The grass is greenest where it is watered. When crossing over fences, carry water with you and tend the grass wherever you may be."

    - Robert Fulghum


  • If the story gets to print, they have already lost. They need to intimidate sources more like we do:

    Tailrank - FBI Acknowledges: Journalists' Phone Records are Fair Game [tailrank.com]
  • by Ph33r th3 g(O)at (592622) on Tuesday September 12, 2006 @07:07AM (#16087503)
    Require journalists to launder reporting done outside China to make the PRC government look good, and revoke the ability to report from inside China for those publishing stories that don't tow the Party line. Nice. Of course, unconfiscable pictures from wireless digital cameras with satellite links are still going to get the story out of this government's oppression and brutality--it just won't have an AP byline anymore.
  • by Chacham (981) *
    One thing China seems to have is a backbone. I may not like their policies, but i have to admire their resolve.

    ...But then again, think of the children.
  • by Dorsai65 (804760) <dkmerriman&gmail,com> on Tuesday September 12, 2006 @08:38AM (#16087805) Homepage Journal

    Between this kind of asshattery, manipulating their economy to maximize the amount of foreign money they get to keep, stomping on their citizens (Tiananmen Square, anyone?), outright thievery of foreign products (Redberry? Puh-LEEZ!), lies (that U.S. recon plane was in Chinese airspace - honest!), double-dealings, and everything else, could someone please explain again just why China is in the WTO, and the rest of the world 'needs' to do business with them?

    I say screw 'em - they want to play by their own rules and the hell with everyone else, then let 'em play by themselves: don't buy Chinese anything!

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by reef127 (120921)
      A billion people. That is the single biggest market in a country. That is why they are in the WTO
    • by z0idberg (888892)
      guess the country

      stomping on citizens?
      -Carnivore
      -warrantless wiretaps.

      lies?
      -WMDs. Invading a foreign country on a lie, a little bigger than an incident with a surveillance plane, international airspace or not.
      -secret foreign prisons to get around detainment and torture laws(we dont have them, oh wait, yes we do).

      other fun facts.
      -Setting up a prison technically outside of your own coutry (Gitmo) so you dont have to abide by your own laws and keeping prisoners there indefinately (years and counting) without c

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