Chinese Authorities Increase Regulation of News Reporters and Editors

August 15, 2006

Chinese authorities have issued yet another regulation intended to further restrict who may report news. According to the official Chinese government news agency Xinhua, on March 22 three Chinese government agencies jointly promulgated the Interim Provisions on the Administration of Those Employed as News Reporters and Editors. The promulgation of the Provisions follows the issuance of regulations earlier in March on journalist accreditation and news bureau operation and comes after China's state-controlled media launched a propaganda campaign attempting to portray Western media, in particular U.S. media, as corrupt and government-controlled.

According to Xinhua, the Central Propaganda Department, the State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television, and the General Administration of Press and Publication jointly promulgated the Provisions to "strengthen the building of the news profession's ethics, regulate the behavior of news reporting and editing personnel, protect the good image of the news industry, and promote the healthy development of the media."

Another Xinhua report also indicates, however, that the Provisions are intended to allow the Communist Party and the central government greater control over the ideological orientation of those who report and edit the news:

The Provisions require that news reporting and editing personnel must be guided by Marxism, Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought, Deng Xiaoping Theory, and the important ideology of the "Three Represents," support the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party; support the socialist system; establish political consciousness, mass consciousness, and responsibility consciousness; implement encouraging a united and stable society, focusing on correct propaganda as the guiding principle; grasp correct guidance of public opinion; support the establishment of reform, openness, and modernism; serve the people; serve socialism; and overall serving the Party and the country. They must respect the Constitution and the law, respect the Party's news propaganda discipline, protect the interests of the Party and the government, and protect the fundamental interests of the masses. They must strictly protect the secrets of the Party and the country.

The Xinhua report also states that the Provisions restrict who can engage in reporting, and that reporters whose credentials are revoked or who are convicted of crimes may be stripped of their constitutional right to freedom of the press for five years to life.

Anyone conducting public interviews must display journalist credentials that have been recognized by a news publishing unit or a radio or television agency and issued by the administrative agency responsible for press and publishing. . . . Any news reporting or editing personnel who are stripped of their journalist credentials may not engage in news reporting or editing work for five years following the day of the revocation; anyone convicted and subject to a criminal penalty for intentionally committing a crime shall not be allowed to engage in news reporting or editing work for the rest of their lives.

The issuance of the Provisions follows a propaganda campaign that Chinese authorities launched last week where China's state-controlled media published several articles that portray Western media, in particular U.S. media, as corrupt and government-controlled:

  • The Quality of Western Freedom of Expression (Red Flag Manuscript, March 14, 2005)

    For a long time, some comrades have had some incorrect areas in their ideology, owing to the fact that they either do not have a concept of the true meaning of press freedom, or they do not fully understand the way the news business operates in the world today. These incorrect areas manifest themselves in two main ways. The first way is to blindly worship Western press freedom, and always believe that the West is a press freedom paradise. The second way is to think that press freedom means you get to report whatever you want, and report any way you want, and to have a complete lack of restrictions on press freedom. . . . This is America's so-called "press freedom," a freedom to twist the facts and ignore life and human rights.

  • Shedding Light on How the US Government Controls the Media (Xinhua, March 18, 2005)

    Many do not realize that the U.S. government has a long tradition of controlling and interfering with the media, and it continues to update its methods.

  • The New York Times Exposes What Kind of "Press Freedom" American Media Has (Xinhua, March 22, 2005)

    America's "press freedom" is nothing more than a label and banner, and in the domain of its larger foreign affairs and domestic policy the government is in fact meticulously strategizing to use multiple means to manipulate and control public opinion.