China's Largest Internet Portals Enter Into Another "Self-Discipline" Arrangement (story in Chinese)

September 20, 2004

The People's Daily reports that three of China's largest Internet portal companies have formed a "self-discipline alliance." According to the report,,, and Netease announced on September 15th that they were establishing a "Wireless Internet Honesty Self-Discipline Alliance" in order to "build an honest and prosperous Internet and resist harmful information." In December 2003 the People's Daily reported (story in Chinese) that Sina, Sohu, Netease and dozens of other Internet news outlets jointly signed an "Internet News Information Service Self-Discipline Pledge" promising to "voluntarily submit to government administration and public supervision" and not disseminate any information that might threaten social stability or be otherwise "harmful." Prior to that, in March 2002 these companies and hundreds of others (including Yahoo) signed the Internet Society of China's "Public Pledge of Self-Regulation and Professional Ethics for China Internet Industry" (in Chinese) which included pledges to:

  • "Carry forward the . . . moral code of socialist spiritual civilization,"
  • Refrain from "producing, posting or disseminating harmful information that may jeopardize state security,"
  • "Monitor the information publicized by users on websites according to law and remove harmful information promptly."

While none of these pledges have defined "harmful information," Chinese authorities generally include in the definition of "harmful" information, facts, and opinions that the central government or Communist Party designates as having "political problems." For example, an article on a Beijing Communist Party website entitled "Discussions of the Internet Battlefield" (in Chinese) states that all levels of the Party and the government must "show their colors and guard against and filter all types of political defamation, pornography, and other harmful information on the Internet." Similarly, a posting on the Guangdong Public Security Office’s website entitled "Sichuan Public Security Organs Delve Deeply into 'Sweeping Away Pornography' and 'Striking Down Illegal Publications'" (in Chinese) reported that in July 2004 a deputy commissioner of Sichuan's Public Security Office told a meeting of that province's Working Committee on Sweeping Away Pornography and Striking Down Illegal Publications that they must "seal up all types of harmful information such as that which has severe political problems . . . ."