Beijing to ban online publishing by foreign firms

Men looking at computers in an internet bar in Beijing on Dec 16, 2015.
Men looking at computers in an internet bar in Beijing on Dec 16, 2015. PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING • China is to ban foreign firms from "online publishing" under new rules issued this week as the country increasingly seeks to minimise Western influence.

Chinese websites are already among the world's most censored, with Beijing blocking many foreign Internet services with a system known as the "Great Firewall of China".

Regulations posted on a government website, set to go into force next month, state that foreign firms "are not to engage in online publishing".

The regulations define online publishing as the provision over the Internet of books, maps, music, cartoons, computer games and "thoughtful text", as well as other content.

It is unclear how the ban will be enforced and whether it will apply to websites hosted on China-based servers or sites aimed at users in China.

The State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, which issued a draft of the rules, could not be immediately contacted for comment.

The regulations say Chinese publishers cooperating with foreign firms to provide online content will need approval. In the past, media organisations such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and Reuters have made big bets on the Chinese hunger for foreign news perspectives, setting up local-language websites only to find them blocked.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 20, 2016, with the headline 'Beijing to ban online publishing by foreign firms'. Print Edition | Subscribe