First Local Regulations Restricting Internet News Publishing to Take Effect April 1

April 4, 2005

Jilin city in Jilin province has announced that a new city ordinance will take effect on April 1 regulating who can post news on the Internet. According to the Jiang Cheng Daily, which the Jilin municipal government sponsors, the Ordinance on the Supervision and Administration of Internet News is China’s first local regulation addressing Internet news publishing. An "explanation" issued along with the Ordinance claims the Ordinance is necessary because "some Web sites or home pages post whatever government news, social news, and cultural news they want, link to news media Web sites outside of China, and establish news forums, and some even go so far as to post some injurious, harmful information that has a deleterious effect on society." The explanation also noted that, while national-level regulations on Internet news publishing exist, those regulations are "insufficiently effective, excessively abstract, their utility is limited, and they have created a situation where there is a lack of law that can be relied upon in practical administrative management work."

At least one Web site, the Jilin Municipal Procuratorate's "Sharp Sword Net," has already announced it is closing in response to the Ordinance.

See below for additional details and analysis.



The new Ordinance applies to anyone engaging in Internet news, which it defines as “current government news, social news, and cultural news.” It expressly excludes entertainment news. The Ordinance states that no one may establish a news Web site without government authorization, and those who have received authorization are restricted to posting news issued from domestic news services. The Ordinance also prohibits Web sites from linking to, or reprinting news from, sources outside of China, except with government permission.

China already has national regulations in place that cover most of the areas the Ordinance addresses. Specifically, the Interim Provisions on the Administration of Internet Web Sites Engaged in News Posting Operations requires all Web sites to receive government authorization to post news, and prohibits Web sites from linking to, or carrying news from, Web sites outside of China. The Ordinance does, however, specifically provide that the government has the right to shut down Web sites that violate its prohibitions on posting news without authorization. This authority, while implied, is not expressly granted under the Interim Provisions.