China Bans Media from Quoting Foreign News

China's media authority has announced new regulations barring news outlets and other organizations from reporting on foreign media coverage without permission.

The General Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television's unveiled the tighter controls in a notice [zh] released on April 16, 2013, less than a day after The New York Times announced it had won a Pulitzer Prize for the newspaper's report on the hidden wealth of Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao's family.

In response to that October 2012 report, the Chinese government blocked the New York Times website as well as Wen Jiabao's name on Sina Weibo.

In addition to requiring Chinese media to have authorization to use foreign media content, the regulations also clamp down on organizations and journalists sharing information on social media, such as popular microblogging site Sina Weibo, that wouldn't normally be included in publication.

The notice, published by China's state media Xinhua, reads [zh]:


All news outlets are not allowed to use news information from foreign media or foreign websites without permission. It is firmly forbidden for journalists and editors to use the Internet as a platform to seek illegal benefits; such behavior will be investigated and punished according to the law. To start an official Weibo account, news agencies should first report to authorities for record and appoint a staff to be responsible for posting authoritative information and deleting harmful information in time.

Most of the stories from the foreign pages of state-run newspaper were sourced from international news agencies. According to The Telegraph, the ban on the use of foreign media would have a big impact on Chinese newspapers.

The news has triggered online outrage among many Weibo users, especially among journalists. Beijing-based journalist “Qingdeng Xiaxiangmingbian” wrote [zh]:

Internet in China by Karen Roach via Shutterstock

Internet in China by Karen Roach via Shutterstock


Public opinion supervision is essential for a healthy society, the scale of criticism is the scale of democracy, “if criticism is not free, then praise is meaningless”. The correct conclusion is from a wide range of voices, rather than what is chosen by the authority.

Web user “Lida Suibi” questioned [zh] if having such a tight grasp on the media is even effective in the long run:


What is harmful information? I think there's only true and false information. The purpose of the news is to broadcast the truth, which is the basic need of a society. Most of the harmful information as defined by the propaganda department throughout the history of the Chinese republic proved to be accurate. Blocking information and opinions may be effective temporarily, but such a policy of self-denial won't work in the long run.

Another web user “Yun Mu” echoed [zh] the sentiment with a Chinese idiom:


The more one tries to hide, the more one is exposed.

“Ye Laodie aiLvse” wrote [zh] sarcastically:


Are we going to become North Korea?

Journalist Liu Xiangqian pointed out [zh] the lack of a new media law in China:


Laws and regulations are seriously lagging behind in the development of things! The Internet has not been considered media in the legal sense, not to mention citizen media!


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