Xinhua Publication Cites Dangers of Free Speech, Calls for Increased Monitoring and Control of Internet News Websites

September 3, 2004

Outlook News Weekly, a publication of China's state-run Xinhua News Agency, published an article on September 2 warning of the dangers of free flow of information on the Internet, praising Chinese government Internet censorship efforts, and calling for increased regulation of Internet content. The article, reprinted in the People's Daily and entitled "The Current Situation and Guidance of Internet Public Opinion" encourages the government to guide, monitor, and control information published on the Internet, and warns that a failure to do so will cause China to be "invaded" by foreign culture and all Internet users to "suffer greatly."

China's government already places severe restraints on news and Internet publishing. To illustrate these restraints the CECC has prepared a flow chart that shows the administrative barriers authors must overcome before they can publish in China. The CECC has also prepared summaries of Chinese laws and regulations that restrict freedom of expression in China.

See below some translated excerpts from the article.

Exerpts from Outlook News Weekly's article "The Current Situation and Guidance of Internet Public Opinion"

"However, although the rise of Internet media has provided Internet users with a platform to freely express their opinions, this kind of Internet expression . . . also creates negative effects. For example, decentralization of public opinion, pornography problems, disclosure of private information, increase in the number of rumors leading to people being deceived, extremism and irrationality, cursing and attacking, blind and impulsive group behavior, the invasion of foreign culture, and other problems appear again and again."

"If there is not increased filtering and control of mixed-up, some-good-some-bad information, if there is no increased guidance of information that Internet users distribute and receive, then it is certain that all Internet users will suffer greatly. . . We must similarly emphasize that we must use correct public opinion to guide people."

"The government can formulate and perfect relevant regulations to carry out the restriction and standardization of information that is distributed over the Internet. It can also use funds and policies to provide support to key national and local news websites, and form a government-managed mainstream Internet media that Internet users can trust, and allow key government and local news websites and traditional media websites to become an online mass media to enable monitoring and control over Internet [news] dissemination."

"The guidance of public opinion is the eternal focus of news media."