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China Forces Shut Down of 107 Websites

China Forces Shut Down of 107 Websites

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is deeply concerned that 107 websites have been forced to shut down by the State Internet Information Office of China. The closures have occurred since a crackdown was launched by the newly formed department General Administration of Press and Publication, Broadcasting, Film and Television on May 9.

The New Beijing Newspaper, which is under the direction of the Beijing Provincial Propaganda Department, reported that the 107 websites include many news-related media outlets. According to the newspaper, they were forced to shut down on the grounds that they allegedly had no permits or were blackmailing companies or individuals by threatening to publish negative information about them. However, the sites include news websites such as Dwnews.com, which is a popular news portal providing a diversified source of information for the territory.

Chinaxwcb.com, which is under the direction of the General Administration of Press and Publication, Broadcasting, Film and Television (GAPPBFT), reported on April 16 that the GAPPBFT issued a notice to all online media saying that all personnel must maintain positive promotion as their guiding principle when operating online portals. The personnel are required to follow the practice of traditional media, blogs and microblogs and to take up the role of guiding public opinion, and to voluntarily refuse to disseminate harmful or unauthorised information.

The IFJ Asia Pacific Office said: “Such a decision, without any evidence to prove the claim, illustrates that China is escalating its efforts to control information. It is clearly a backlash occurring while the new leadership is in its early days.

“Plurality is the key to a democratic society, reflecting the authorities’ respect for people’s rights to receive and impart information. The media must report cases of great public concern and not distinguish between good and bad news. Only authorities that do not understand the duties of the media will force the media to become propaganda outlets.”

We urge the Chinese authorities to adopt international standards and the principle of press freedom, and to lift all restrictions and allow all media outlets to operate independently.

We also urge the GAPPBFT to withdraw the notice and the State Internet Information Office of China to provide more evidence to support its claim that the online media outlets affected by the crackdown are “illegal”, so that the media outlets may resume exercising their rights.

ENDS

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