Hunan Bans Unauthorized Magazines, Acts Against Unlicensed Journalists

September 22, 2006

Since mid-August, the Hunan provincial government has banned two magazines and shut down three news bureaus, according to a September 11 report on the provincial government's Web site. The report said the government shut down news bureaus of the Hunan Workers Daily, Modern Hospital Daily, China Specialty Daily, and Hunan Safety and Prevention Magazine because "they had been established without government permission." The report referred to the actions as the "One Rule and Two Measures" campaign, a reference to three central government regulations that went into effect in March 2005. Chinese news and electronic media regulatory agencies have been using these regulations to control who can engage in journalism:

  • One Rule: The Interim Rules for the Administration of Those Employed as News Reporters and Editors, which requires, among other things, that journalists and editors "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 . . . respect the Party's news propaganda discipline, [and] protect the interests of the Party and the government . . ."
  • Two Measures: The Measures for the Administration of Journalist Accreditation Cards and the Measures for the Administration of News Bureaus, which restrict "legal" news gathering and editorial activities to those holding a government-issued Journalist Accreditation Card.

In addition to shutting down news bureaus, authorities in Hunan also banned the Anti-Corruption Report and the Crime Prevention Guide because they were being published using the book numbers of other publications. Chinese law requires that every publication have a book number, and the General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP) maintains exclusive control over the distribution of these numbers, and thereby over who is allowed to publish. GAPP officials have explicitly linked the allotment of book numbers to publishers' political orientation. According to an April 2005 Beijing News report, some private publishers in China put out over 100 books a year, primarily through the illegal purchase of book numbers.

Local GAPP officials in Shanxi province banned the Luliang Weekly in August 2005, and in the past two years the central government has banned at least 169 newspapers and magazines and launched multiple crackdowns on foreign publications.