GAPP: Indoctrination, Prior Restraints, Political Censorship "Highlights" of '05

April 29, 2006

The General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP) published an article (in Chinese) on January 4 entitled "Looking Back on 2005: Focusing on Ten Bright Spots on the Press Battle Lines." Three of these "bright spots" were:

The General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP) published an article (in Chinese) on January 4 entitled "Looking Back on 2005: Focusing on Ten Bright Spots on the Press Battle Lines." Three of these "bright spots" were:

Number 10: Indoctrinating journalists "in order to promote harmony."

The GAPP report praised the expansion of the "Three Studies Education" campaign (the study of Jiang Zemin's "Three Represents," the study of the Marxist approach to the press, and the study of professional ethics). According to the report, in 2005 the government carried out on-the-job training of Communist Party officials holding leadership positions at news publishers and "deeply and meticulously performed worker and staff ideological and political work" in order to "safeguard stability and unity."

Number 9: Regulation of publishing "in accordance with the law."

According to the GAPP, "markedly effective" legislation on news publishing was adopted in 2005, such as the Rules for the Administration of Those Employed as News Reporters and Editors, the Measures for the Administration of Journalist Accreditation Cards, and the Measures for the Administration of News Bureaus. The Chinese government promulgated these laws to regulate news reporters and editors. While the public rationale for the new rules was to curb what the state-controlled news media portrays as rampant corruption and fraud in Chinese journalism, the new rules and regulations represent prior restraints on publishing that restrict who may engage in journalism and their political orientation, and when they must submit to Party and government censorship.

The GAPP report also cited the Provisions on the Administration of Newspapers and Provisions on the Administration of Periodicals. These regulations went into effect December 1, 2005, and represent prior restraints on publishing. They allow the government to retain absolute control over who may publish a newspaper and who may work as a journalist or editor at a newspaper. These regulations also define government content restrictions, and implement formal procedures to allow the government to monitor the contents of newspapers and impose sanctions for violating those restrictions, including banning a publication and fining its operators.

Number 7: Activities of the Sweep Away Pornography and Strike Down Illegal Publication (SAPSDIP) Task Force that "thoroughly purified the publications market."

The GAPP report said that the SAPSDIP Task Force launched "undercover investigations" during 2005 in the publishing markets of 27 provinces and cities, and broke several major cases that led to the banning and confiscation of what it characterized as "illegal political publications," as well as the "rectification" of "illegal" newspapers.

For additional background on the SAPSDIP Task Force and its recent activities, see below.

The SAPSDIP Task Force is an inter-agency group composed of over a dozen government and Party agencies including the GAPP, the Communist Party Central Propaganda Department, Ministry of Public Security, Ministry of Information Industry, Ministry of Culture, and the Customs Office. It is responsible for the investigation and prosecution of unlicensed publishing, printing, and copying. Although the Task Force’s work relates in part to shutting down purveyors of obscene and pirated materials, the SAPSDIP campaign is "first of all an anti-infiltration and anti-subversion political struggle," according to a report on the SAPSDIP Web site.

Examples of recent SAPSDIP Task Force censorship activities include:

  • Chinese authorities banned 79 newspapers and periodicals and seized hundreds of thousands of the publications because of their political and/or religious content.
  • The government of Zhongshan city in Guangdong province issued a Circular Regarding Purifying the Publication Market and Cultural Entertainment Venue Market for New Years, Spring Festival, and the Convening of the Country's "Two Meetings" on January 4 stating, among other things, that customs and border officials should make illegal political publications and propaganda materials and "other harmful publications" the focus of their search and seizure efforts. The circular also stated that officials should target items from "focal point countries and areas" for thorough searches, and keep "publications and propaganda materials that harm social stability and undermine social conduct" from entering the borders.
  • SAPSDIP officials in Liaoning province announced that in 2006 they not only would focus on investigating illegal political publications and banning unauthorized newspapers, but also would launch in June and July 2006 a campaign against "harmful" information on the Internet, according to a January 18 Xinhua report (in Chinese). The official said on a teleconference that they would silence those who use the Internet to disseminate "political illegal publications," and would shut down domestic Web sites posting or linking to "harmful" information.
  • SAPSDIP officials in Beijing said their work in 2006 would focus on shutting down and confiscating illegal political publications and "other harmful publications," as well as on controlling illegal newspapers and silencing "harmful information" on the Internet, according to a January 18 Beijing Youth Daily article (in Chinese).
  • SAPSDIP officials in Henan province said that in 2006 they would focus on "striking hard" against illegal political publications that "threaten national security and social stability," according to a January 19 Henan Daily report (in Chinese) published on the Xinhua Web site.

As Chinese officials in the state-run media have noted, any book, newspaper, or magazine that is published by an agency, organization, or individual without the permission of the Chinese government is an illegal publication. Illegal publications are flourishing, and have become a "chronic disease," despite repeated bans, according to a February 5 Xinhua article (in Chinese). Chen Jiping, Deputy Director of the General Political Office of the Communist Party and Deputy Chief of the SAPSDIP Task Force told a teleconference that to address this problem SAPSDIP work would be made a "primary component" of political, legislative, and law enforcement work.