Heilongjiang Task Force Establishes New Systems To Improve Censorship

September 13, 2005

The Heilongjiang division of the National Sweep Away Pornography and Strike Down Illegal Publications (SAPSDIP) Task Force has established two new systems to "gradually establish and perfect long-term supervision and administration mechanisms for the publications market," according to an August 15 post on the Task Force's Web site. Under the Publication Marketplace Special Agent System, agencies in the province responsible for regulating the media and publishing will dispatch officials with "a relatively high political consciousness" to publication marketplaces to perform the following duties:

  • Implement the policies of the Communist Party;
  • Supervise the activities of those conducting business in publication marketplaces;
  • Organize and administer the screening of publications' contents prior to their sale; and
  • Screen and identify suspected illegal publications.

The Discipline and Law Violation Announcement System for Publication Businesses establishes a public watch list for book sellers and distributors who have been subjected to administrative sanction for violating China's publishing regulations, but whose actions did not constitute a violation China's criminal law. The notice calls on authorities to focus on procedures relating to screening the contents of publications before they are sold and ensure that publication vendors do not sell books from distributors that are not licensed by the government. Authorities will place on the watch list anyone who sells the following:

  • Political publications with contents that damage the honor of China;
  • Publications that "propagate Falun Gong or feudal superstitions"; and
  • Publications that the government has banned.

In addition, anyone who stocks publications from anyone who is not a government authorized publisher or distributor will not only be included in the watchlist, but will also become the target of increased government supervision. Heilongjiang's deployment of these systems follows a Xinhua report in June 2005 indicating that the General Administration of Press and Publication had begun keeping a list of book wholesalers, large-scale retailers, and online bookstores that violate China's publication distribution law.