China Signals Further Clampdown on Citizen Journalism With License Scheme — Radio Free Asia

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China’s web regulator has introduced a crackdown on citizen journalism across the nation, banning anybody from posting news-related information on-line and not using a license.

The transfer was introduced by Zhuang Rongwen, deputy director of the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP)’s central propaganda division, throughout a Jan. 29 on-line convention on selling “orderly communications” on all on-line platforms, the Cyberspace Administration mentioned in an announcement on its official web site.

“We must control the source of online texts, and resolutely close any loopholes,” Zhuang informed the convention. “The standardized management of citizen journalism should be a priority, with increased punishments for offenders and actual teeth for regulators.”

Changes to media rules three years in the past required any group publishing information or present affairs-related content material to carry a license from the nation’s media regulator, and the main target on citizen journalism will lengthen the complete implementation of that rule to incorporate each common residents and journalists posting on their non-public accounts to evade censorship.

The transfer comes months after authorities detained and jailed plenty of individuals for reporting unofficially on the unfolding of the coronavirus pandemic within the central metropolis of Wuhan within the early months of 2020.

Independent scholar Fang Liang mentioned the transfer merely means even tighter CCP management over on-line speech.

“They are gradually getting control of all channels through which people could get information,” Fang mentioned. “They want to have actual control over people’s right to comment on current affairs and share information.”

“The aim is to make it so that the general public will only be able to access a one-way flow of information from official channels,” he mentioned.

Accounts just lately warned

Social media customers informed RFA that each one WeChat official accounts have been just lately warned by Tencent to not publish any real-time information or information that hasn’t been by way of an official approval course of.

Sohu  and Baijia have additionally issued comparable notices to customers in current days, banning accounts with no information publishing license from posting on information or present affairs.

“Online censorship is moving away from people’s right [to know] and more towards the power of the government to control the people,” Fang mentioned.

A pastor in a Protestant church within the jap port metropolis of Qingdao informed RFA that the authorities aren’t solely involved with information, but additionally with non secular content material.

“I have heard that they will comprehensively rectify citizen journalism, current affairs, politics, commentary, and also religious content,” the pastor, who gave solely a pseudonym John, mentioned.

“The government is clamping down on citizen journalism, which will quash freedom of speech even more than before, and mean that the voices of the least privileged people in our society won’t be heard any more,” he mentioned.

Disappeared, detained, jailed

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, a number of citizen journalists who went to Wuhan within the early days of the coronavirus outbreak to report from the entrance line, have “disappeared,” been detained or jailed.

According to the overseas-based Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) community, the precise whereabouts of Fang Bin and Chen Qiushi stay unknown.

On Dec. 28, 2020, citizen journalist Zhang Zhan was sentenced to 4 years’ imprisonment by the Pudong District People’s Court, which discovered her responsible of “picking quarrels and stirring up trouble,” a cost continuously used to focus on critics of the federal government.

She was accused of “posting false information” on abroad social media platforms Twitter and YouTube, and for giving interviews to international information organizations.

Meanwhile, Chen Mei and Cai Wei, who tried to preservedcensored COVID information, are nonetheless in detention, CHRD mentioned.

“Outspoken critics of President Xi Jinping for his handling of the pandemic are locked up – Ren Zhiqiang received 18 years in jail, Guo Quan and Xu Zhiyong remain in pretrial detention,” it mentioned in a current report.

Reported by Qiao Long for RFA’s Mandarin Service, and by Man Hoi Yan fowhile or the Cantonese Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

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