China mutes online news (Christian Science Monitor)

“In the past year, Chinese websites have cautiously adopted an identity as an alternative information source – one used by an estimated 200 million people. Privately owned websites are seen by many young urban Chinese as a world of virtual semi-independence.

Most sites focus on shopping, sports, and careers. But chat rooms, news groups, and spot polls have begun to gingerly open up sensitive issues including SARS, AIDS, police brutality, and legal reform.

Now some Web services designed to stretch the boundaries of news content and opinion in China have been shut down – partly due to the Web’s own success. Central party authorities recently decided that Internet content was becoming too undisciplined. In late February, senior managers at China’s major Web portals,,, Netease (, and several smaller groups, were told to stop using live Web broadcasts, translating foreign news, and doing online interviews with scholars, artists, and professionals. News chat rooms were also closed or redirected. Instead, managers were instructed to rely on official state Xinhua news. ”

The full report is here.

March 9, 2004 5:21 PM
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Categories: Law