China’s “Seven Base Lines” for a Clean Internet

With a fresh campaign against online rumors underway, China Media Project’s David Bandurski examines the “Seven Base Lines” recently defined to help guide “mutual building of a favorable [online] environment”:

You might assume with all this talk of “rumors” that there are genuine concerns about the truth and accuracy of information. Perhaps the leadership wants to put a stop to the spread of false and destabilizing information — like talk of radiation fallout that prompts panic salt buying (one thing mentioned a lot during the 2011 anti-rumor crackdown).

You would be wrong.

Let’s look quickly as the “Seven Base Lines.”

  1. The Base Line of Laws and Regulations
  2. The Base Line of the Socialist System
  3. The Base Line of National Interests
  4. The Base Line of Citizens’ Legal Rights and Interests
  5. The Base Line of Public Order
  6. The Moral Base Line
  7. The Base Line of Information Accuracy

Notice that information accuracy is at the bottom of the list. […] [Source]

Bandurski adds a translated Nanfang Daily commentary “which sums up the official view on this issue quite well.” See also a recently reposted 2011 interview with Hu Yong, who argues that rumors can play a useful social function, and that “the best possible mechanism for clearing up [information] would be for the government to realize openness and transparency of information.”