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China to Control Reports of Foreign News Agencies

ScuttleMonkey posted about 8 years ago | from the can't-stop-the-censors dept.

268

afa writes "According to Xinhuanet.com, Xinhua News Agency on Sunday promulgated a set of measures to regulate the release of news and information in China by foreign news agencies. From the article: 'Where a foreign news agency violates the Measures in one of the following manners, Xinhua News Agency shall give it a warning, demand rectification within a prescribed time limit, suspend its release of specified content, suspend or cancel its qualifications of a foreign news agency for releasing news and information in China, on the merits of each case.'"

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Well now (1)

johansalk (818687) | about 8 years ago | (#16087034)

However you slice it, that is bad.

Re:Well now (1, Insightful)

frazell (990151) | about 8 years ago | (#16087098)

Bad is very subjective to the perspective of the person being subject to this...

I do not agree with the actions of the Chinese government in its extreme efforts to censor and control its citizens, but at the same time i support the right of a people to choose their governments. Although it can be argued how much choice the Chinese have when it comes to their form of government we cannot immediately assume that our form of democracy is some sort of perfect thing that needs to be instilled in the rest of the world. If the majority of the Chinese are content with their government or its actions (which is the case otherwise their country would be in a civil war until it changed) we as a world community have to respect their right to govern their country.

That being said any company operating in China has to respect that as well. If the international news agencies do not want to be subject to censorship they have a choice, they can leave. It is not the job of companies to decide when government policy should and should not be followed. They are required to, and should be, adhere to the laws of the land where they operate, no matter how wrong they think those laws are. If they don't leave the country and in turn try to reverse the policy of the government they are not only attempting to place themselves above the law, but (since they are not Chinese firms) they are also attempting to instill foreign ideals on Chinese society, both are wrong.

Even in our "democratic" society a core element is respect for the opinions of others, even if they don't agree with you. We have to remember to place that same respect in our thinking when it comes to other nations in the global community.

Re:Well now (4, Insightful)

FleaPlus (6935) | about 8 years ago | (#16087122)

If the majority of the Chinese are content with their government or its actions (which is the case otherwise their country would be in a civil war until it changed) we as a world community have to respect their right to govern their country.

In the American Civil War, the majority of people in the Confederacy were content with their government and its actions. Should the world community have respected their right to govern their country?

Re:Well now (3, Insightful)

johanw (1001493) | about 8 years ago | (#16087214)

Of course. It seems states cannot leave the USA without being attacked. When states wanted to leave the former USSR they were free to go (although that was probably more because the USSR was very weak already, I doubt very much Stalin would have let them go as well).

Aspiring nations (5, Insightful)

Savage-Rabbit (308260) | about 8 years ago | (#16087294)

In the American Civil War, the majority of people in the Confederacy were content with their government and its actions. Should the world community have respected their right to govern their country?

Priorities have changed since the mid 19th century. Today the appropriate question would be: Does your aspiring nation seeking recognition have oil? Valuable minerals perhaps? Because in this day and age that, followed by a favorable exploitation deal with a major US/EU corporation belonging to the right people, is the qualifier for instant recognition by the great powers and thus the international community by default. Otherwise your aspiring nation will be caught indefinitely in 'prevent regional political fragmentation' hell which usually means that you can't buy weapons but the megalomanic dictator keeping the region in order for Washington and its favorite allies can buy them at discounted rates from select US/EU defense contractors. So you see that you are in for an up hill struggle if your aspiring nation can't bring anything of solid business value to the table. This is nothing personal mind you, just a solid mix of market driven economics and realpolitik. The Confederate misfortune was that cotton simply wasn't valuable enough a resource to risk pissing off the Northern states by supporting the rebels who into the bargain supported slavery which was rapidly becoming an international abomination at the time which was another barrier to anybody contemplating supporting them. Hmmmmmm..... perhaps priorites haven't changed all that much after all?

Re:Well now (4, Insightful)

johanw (1001493) | about 8 years ago | (#16087225)

It only means most Chinese don't hate their government enough to think it's beneficial to start a civil war they think they can win.

Bollocks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16087283)

Shut the fuck up. It is the duty of democracies to upgrade all military and single party dictatorships and end this sort of crap forever.

Re:Well now (2, Insightful)

jacksonj04 (800021) | about 8 years ago | (#16087314)

"The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter."

-- Winston Churchill

Re:Well now (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 8 years ago | (#16087420)

Churchill summed up democracy perfectly when he described it as the worst possible form of government (except for all the others). Democracy is a tool used to acquire individual freedom. It is a dangerous tool, since it has a distressing habit of breaking and hurting whoever is operating it at the time.

History is littered with democracies (Rome, Germany, etc) that have turned into dictatorships and so far the only corrective measure anyone has found has been a violent overthrow of the government. It seems likely that a better solution will be needed in the next few decades in a number of places. Does anyone have any suggestions?

Re:Well now (1)

GodLogiK (650517) | about 8 years ago | (#16087102)

indeed... the question now I guess is, "What's to be done?"

well then.. (1, Insightful)

macadamia_harold (947445) | about 8 years ago | (#16087036)

Re:well then.. (1)

kg4czo (516374) | about 8 years ago | (#16087073)

How is that related to China sensoring?

Gambling is still illegal in many states, including mine. The only exception is a state lotto, which raises money for the schools ($8 Mill so far) instead of a state tax. On top of that, gambling can't even be put into the same category as free speech.

Just my $.02USD....

Re:well then.. (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16087132)

Free speech is still illegal in many states, including mine. The only exception is the state press, which raises money for the schools ($8 Mill so far) instead of a state tax. On top of that, free speech can't even be put into the same category as gambling.

Re:well then.. (1)

kg4czo (516374) | about 8 years ago | (#16087155)

<feed_troll>
lol! What was the point in that?
</feed_troll>

Re:well then.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16087425)

You must be new here.

can a local government control a foreign country? (1)

macadamia_harold (947445) | about 8 years ago | (#16087189)

How is that related to China sensoring? (sic)

Because it's the exact same attitude; specifically, that a local government can control what companies operated legally in other countries do on the internet.

Here's an idea: If a specific country doesn't like what companies in other countries are doing on the internet, they're perfectly free to CUT THEMSELVES OFF FROM THE INTERNET.

Re:well then.. (1)

jrumney (197329) | about 8 years ago | (#16087217)

Gambling is still illegal in many states, including mine.

Printing news stories critical of the Government is illegal in China. Both activities are not illegal in many other juristictions. So how is it different?

Re:well then.. (4, Insightful)

uglyduckling (103926) | about 8 years ago | (#16087438)

Printing news stories critical of the Government is illegal in China. Both activities are not illegal in many other juristictions. So how is it different?

Because freedom of information across national and international boundaries is essential to the general freedom of the human race - freedom in terms of free from torture, free from oppression and exploitation, etc. The blocking of very specific forms of commerce in order to preserve business rules and local laws on what is considered acceptable business practive, if applied within reason, will have little impact on the planet overall.

Clearly there is a similarity between the desire to control information in general and the desire to control commercial activities, but there is always going to be some kind of regulation of any communications medium (the alternative being anarchy - which I'm sure some people would support). The question is whether the regulation being proposed is reasonable. Curtailing freedom of the press will probably facilitate abuse of human rights. Curtailing of gambling activities will most likely not.

Re:well then.. (3, Insightful)

maetenloch (181291) | about 8 years ago | (#16087088)

uh, no it's not. Charging the executive of an offshore gambling company with violating U.S. law when he steps foot on U.S. soil is quite different from censoring foreign news coming into a country. About the only thing they have in common is that they involve government action.

As an aside I have no problem with online gambling and think the government is wasting their time pursuing this. However they do have a plausible case given that this is a murky area of the law. Imagine if I was selling handguns here in the U.S. to customers in the U.K. and shipping them without filling out the proper paperwork. From my side, it's a perfectly legal operation in the U.S. However if I were to visit Heathrow, U.K. authorities might consider me an illegal arms dealer.

Re:well then.. (1)

Xrikcus (207545) | about 8 years ago | (#16087193)

I think it's more like running a website in the US that allowed you to remotely control the shooting of species protected in the UK. That is the actual business transaction and illegal activity is occurring on US soil (where it isn't illegal), but the customer happens to be paying from the UK. That distinction makes the gambling issue far more murky than your gun shipping suggestion (which is fairly clear cut).

So then (1)

mcc (14761) | about 8 years ago | (#16087246)

So you view controlling the movement of information on the internet

and controlling the movement of money on the internet

as exactly the same thing?

That's kinda weird.

Cuz, y'know, I seriously disagree with the recent movements by the U.S. government against online gambling, but I can't conceive of equating that at ANY level with movements against freedom of speech or the press. After all, there's already enormous precedent everywhere in the world for treating the movement or use of money as something that there's nothing weird or authortarian about governments regulating; even in places where people would be horrified by the idea of a government telling a newspaper what to print, the government does things like tax all commercial tranactions and regulate everything banks do very strictly and very few people have an actual problem with this. So which is regulating internet gambling more like-- regulating a newspaper? Or regulating a bank?

Anyway, aside from that, I never understand this thing where people try to excuse tyranny by [some government or group] by pointing wildly at [some other government or group], and going, hey, but those OTHER guys, they're evil TOO! Uh... so? That doesn't make group #1 any less evil...

Re:So then (1)

macadamia_harold (947445) | about 8 years ago | (#16087351)

That's kinda weird.

in the modern economy, information and money are often the same thing. it's not weird at all. (and also why insider trading is illegal, for example)

Re:So then (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16087371)

information and money are often the same thing

OK, knowledge is sometimes useful in the quest to make money, and yes, under the current bizarre ip laws the legal licence to use information in the manufacture of certains goods or services is sometimes traded like currency, but that does not, repeat not, make them the same thing! And I honestly can't imagine where anyone would get such a strange idea.

Re:So then (1)

macadamia_harold (947445) | about 8 years ago | (#16087389)

do you disagree that time and money are often the same thing?

Re:So then (1)

uglyduckling (103926) | about 8 years ago | (#16087424)

Time and money are clearly not the same thing. Time is a property of the universe which describes the order of events, money is a system to facilitate the trading of goods and services by the exchange of (almost) valueless objects which symbolically represent gold and other precious materials.


It is true that time is usually required to obtain money, and that the spending of money can often result in more time being free in the future, but to claim that they are the "same thing" is ridiculous. The phrase 'time is money' is linguistic shorthand to indicate that, within a given discrete context, time and money are so closely linked that it is convenient to regard them as equivalent.

Re:So then (2, Insightful)

killjoe (766577) | about 8 years ago | (#16087436)

The US controls the internet and the press in much more sophisticated ways. We don't just kill journalists or blow up television stations like other countries do we buy them, we pay journalists to report what we want, we produce shows that are presented as news, we threaten reporters with losing access, we plant fake reporters in press rooms etc.

In other words we try our best to preserve the illusion of the free press while we control it.

Had enough yet? (4, Insightful)

Schraegstrichpunkt (931443) | about 8 years ago | (#16087046)

Is it just me, or is it completely unacceptable that the thoughts of over one-sixth of the world's population are being controlled by an unelected committee of 150 people?

Re:Had enough yet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16087049)

You mean the ad agencies of Madison Avenue?

Re:Had enough yet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16087059)

Is it me, or is it completely unacceptable that there are thoughts of sending kids who aren't even old enough to drink to 'liberate' (that is, swap forms of tyranny by force of arms) a sovereign nation?

Re:Had enough yet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16087068)

You know, the GP's outrage is in no way justifying any war, combat, or violent action of any sort. Your statement is idiotic.

Re:Had enough yet? (1)

The_Mr_Flibble (738358) | about 8 years ago | (#16087127)

Yeah, but what about China ?

..unelected committee of 150 people? (5, Insightful)

Chas (5144) | about 8 years ago | (#16087139)

Screw that! It's completely unacceptable that the thoughts of one-sixth of the world's population be controlled by ANYONE, elected or otherwise.

Re:Had enough yet? (1, Troll)

advocate_one (662832) | about 8 years ago | (#16087234)

and this is different in the USA???

Re:Had enough yet? (1)

lixee (863589) | about 8 years ago | (#16087235)

Israel has been doing the same thing forever! Yet, I'm still looking for a single piece in mainstream media that mentions the censorship. And yes, most people mistake this apartheid regime for a democracy as well.
Mod me down troll now, the fact is all of the above is truth.

Re:Had enough yet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16087265)

Is it just me, or is it completely unacceptable that the thoughts of over one-sixth of the world's population are being controlled by an unelected committee of 150 people?

It's not just you. China has been censoring the news of foreign journalists for decades-- But why is this news now?

Key scary bits... (4, Informative)

tygerstripes (832644) | about 8 years ago | (#16087063)

From TFA:
to promote the dissemination of news and information in a sound and orderly manner
That's how they're calling it, anyway. Spin it right and the People will swallow anything.
Foreign news agencies shall not directly solicit subscription of their news and information services in China
So, no internationally recognised (relatively) independent news agency can even advertise. Period. I might have presented a slightly skewed interpretation of "solicit", but that's a bit crappy anyway.
In using news and information from a foreign news agency, the user in China shall clearly indicate the sources and shall not transfer them to another party in any form....penalties for violations in the releasing, distributing or using of news and information from a foreign news agency in China
So if you do access news from a foreign agency - whether vetted or not by the Xinhua New Agency - it is illegal to pass on that information. Fuck me, that's horrible.

And from the submitted article it seems that they're even prepared to revoke the state-defined status of any international news-agency who contravenes these measures in any way.

What also bothers me is the notion of vetting this stuff at source. Are the XNA going to demand that news agencies do as Google have done, procuding a secondary, vetted, approved version of the news? Google argued their case for doing so to the international web community (successfully or otherwise, depends on your POV - they're getting the revenue from it anyway), but most international news agencies pride and extol themselves for their independence and impartiality. Will they bow to the same pressure in order to, as Google said (again, my own interpretation), "gain a foothold in China and at least keep its information borders actively moving traffic, however restricted"?

Scary stuff indeed.

Re:Key scary bits... (2, Insightful)

jandersen (462034) | about 8 years ago | (#16087149)

You are quoting selectively and with a clear bias - in the hope, I think, that you can score some points with the big majority of /. readers who will never read the article. So to balance your quotes a bit, here are some more:
 
... news and information released in China by foreign news agencies shall not contain any of the following that serves to: ...

        -- undermine China's national unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity;

        -- endanger China's national security, reputation and interests;

        -- violate China's religious policies or preach evil cults or superstition;

        -- incite hatred and discrimination ... ...


And so forth; read the article in full. Now, which part of the above is horribly bad and oppressive?

Can't you see that it is exactly this kind of brainwashed tunnelvision that constantly undermines America's standing in the world? The US has some higly dubious laws, policies and practices; but we are all supposed to give you the benefit of the doubt. On the other hand, no matter what a country like China does, they are always guilty. So, to take an example, in China you are not allowed to incite hatred and discrimination - this, I take it, is interpreted in the US as 'horrible suppression of a fundamental freedom' rather than 'protection of vulnerable minorities'.

And I think I'm actually being kind here, calling the average American biased. The alternative would be to take you serious and believe that you are cold, selfish and uncaring.

Re:Key scary bits... (2, Insightful)

tygerstripes (832644) | about 8 years ago | (#16087190)

Yes, I can see that this sort of thing goes on in the US. I am, after all, from the UK, and view such things with a mixture of horror and pity. So before you continue your Merkin-bashing crusade here, stop and breathe.

From the very quote you've chosen, "undermine China's national unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity" seems to me to be, to use your terms, "horribly bad and oppressive". It is a totally subjective and unqualified restriction which may interpreted by the XNA in any way the current regime sees fit, which is about as "horribly bad and oppressive" as any censorship gets, don't you think?

Having read the article in full, and selectively pulled out the bits I find most abhorrent, with an explanation of why I understand them to be so, I have posted them in the hope of further clarifying the problems with this new stance taken by the government. If that means that I will "score some points with the big majority of /. readers who will never read the article", thereby presenting what I believe to be a more informative perspective on the article than would be gleaned by such readers, then so be it. This is, after all, the purpose of the moderation system.

Finally, your stance on the article seems to more closely match the problems with reactionary US laws than anyone's. You think that justifying one or two possibly reasonable items in the new law such as preventing "incitement of hatred and discrimination" justifies the whole law - when clearly items such as not allowing news agencies to "endanger China's... reputation" are massively oppressive.

If you're happy to see a large part of an entire nation's liberty sacrificed by its government for the sake of "security" or, in this case, control, then you are far more guilty of the very "brainwashed tunnelvision" you denounce than I.

It was in fact Benjamin Franklin, a Merkin, who said something to the effect of "Anyone who is prepared to sacrifice a little liberty for a little security deserves neither, and will lose both". Maybe you should think about such things a little more before you start swinging, hmm?

Re:Key scary bits... (1)

Proud like a god (656928) | about 8 years ago | (#16087297)

I just wanted to say thank you for articulating that so well.

Re:Key scary bits... (1)

arun_s (877518) | about 8 years ago | (#16087194)

There's another article [iht.com] I found that puts down the rationale to all this down to simple greed. Some snippets from there:

Xinhua News Agency, long a mouthpiece for China's Communist Party, is getting a boost from the Beijing government in its quest to become an international media power.

The regulations give Xinhua a virtual monopoly over the distribution inside China of news, information and other services from foreign agencies. Their release comes as the communist leadership has clamped down on mainstream media and the Internet, firing and even arresting aggressive reporters and editors.

"Xinhua, which is a government propaganda arm, is not rolling in money and they're looking for ways to get rich, to make Xinhua a player."

Xinhua "has the right to select the news and information released by foreign news agencies in China and shall delete any materials mentioned in the items above," it said.

Re:Key scary bits... (1)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | about 8 years ago | (#16087248)

So while we are on the topic of not jumping to conclusions, let's analyze this even further. China is known to have classified weather reports for specific regions as being a national secret. The US, on the other hand, has (yet) to do anything as egregious as that. So the majority's initial reaction to this is not any indication of bias - it is merely an indication that the Chinese government has a history of defining things in a way that would get the US government thrown out in a blood bath (electoral or literal).

Now, is this anything new? No. It's just the official codification of what has long been standard practice in Chinese Media. Only now, foreign media will be subject to the same constraints. After all, can't have the Olympic games be marred by reports of poverty, riots, suppression or discussion of non-government approved topics.

Re:Key scary bits... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16087279)

[...] China is known to have classified weather reports for specific regions as being a national secret. The US, on the other hand, has (yet) to do anything as egregious as that. [...]

That you know of. How would you know, if they cover their tracks well enough and if the news media goes to the lengths of self-censorship as it does in western Europe? I can't imagine things being at all better in the plutocratic US.

Re:Key scary bits... (2, Insightful)

Stormwatch (703920) | about 8 years ago | (#16087257)

undermine China's national unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity;
*cough* Tibet *cough* Taiwan *cough*
endanger China's national security, reputation and interests;
Reputation, meaning: "don't say anything bad about us, or else..."
violate China's religious policies or preach evil cults or superstition;
So much for freedom of belief.

uhhh... (3, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | about 8 years ago | (#16087260)

you realize, of course, that that list translates into not being allowed to criticize the chinese government, right?

you can think of gw bush govt anyway you want... actually, that's the whole point: you can sit here on slashdot or anywhere else and criticize gw bush and his govt all you want

but if you were to criticize the govt in china?

you would be raise the attention of these nice people [nytimes.com]

so at best, you are naive, at worst, you are seriously deluded about what really goes on in china

basically, you see the innocuous language above, "to protect chinese sovereignty" etc, and take those bureaucratic words at their least harmful interpretation

oh if only that were the truth

but i am afraid you are quite mistaken about what really goes in china with censorship

go ahead, search the internet, do some research on the subject if you don't believe me. confirm what i am saying via multiple sources from multiple countries

and keep in mind while you are doing that research that someone in china could not be doing the same thing: their access is filtered and watched

next time, please educate yourself a little before you start screaming high holy moral indignation

you're just revealing your own ignorance about reality

Re:uhhh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16087378)

you can think of gw bush govt anyway you want... actually, that's the whole point: you can sit here on slashdot or anywhere else and criticize gw bush and his govt all you want

This quote is funny because in posts where he's not trying to make China look bad, circletimessquare will rip your throat out if he catches you criticizing gw bush and his govt.

i don't care about the us govt (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | about 8 years ago | (#16087406)

so why would you completely misrepresent what i believe

Absolute bullshit (4, Insightful)

mcc (14761) | about 8 years ago | (#16087354)

endanger China's national security, reputation and interests
Now, which part of the above is horribly bad and oppressive?

I cannot believe there is anyone in the world who would actually fall for something this transparent. On the offchance you're just stupid and not trying to actually deceive people, let's turn this around for a minute. Although not everyone who reads this site is American, and neither the article nor the post you are replying to mention America, you seem to want really badly to distract us from thinking about China and get us to think about America instead. You want to talk about America? Fine. Let's talk about America.

Let's talk about the Bush Administration. Everything the Bush Administration has done in the last five years, they have done in the name of preventing people from "endangering America's national security, reputation and interests".

Are there, say, any things the Bush Administration has done in the last five years that you disagree with?

If so, why? After all, they were only trying to prevent the endangering of America's national security, reputation and interests.

Let's say the Bush Administration announced they were going to start banning importing or reading of foreign newspaper articles or websites that "endanger America's national security, reputation and interests". Would you at all mistrust them with that power? Would you complain?

If so, why? In this hypothetical example, they say they're only going to go after publications which "endanger America's national security, reputation and interests". What's so horribly bad and oppressive about that?

And the answer of course is obvious, which is that something like "endangering national security, reputation and interests" is so vague that if you write a blank check to anyone in a position of governmental power to take action aginst it, they can define "national security, reputation and interests" to suit their own needs and use that blank check to shut down simply anything and anybody they don't like. Likewise, pretty much anything that tries to hold any government accountable for its actions can be easily labelled by that government "undermin[ing] national unity". Almost any group any government doesn't like can be easily labelled an "evil cult". I don't think I need to explain the problem with the clause "include[s] other content banned by Chinese laws and administrative regulations".

Which part of Xinhua's little announcement/article is horribly bad and oppressive? The whole thing. It's dressed up in pretty language, sure, but hey, fascism always is.

What China is doing here is unambiguously, unconditionally wrong, and what America is or isn't doing has absolutely nothing to do with that. You can try to make excuses for China; you can be an instrument of a totaltarian government if for some reason you get off on that. But you can't change what China is doing by dressing it up with pretty words.

In the meanwhile, I never cease to be saddened to see how much mileage propagandists can get out of accusing others of "bias"...

Re:Absolute bullshit (2, Interesting)

Andy Gardner (850877) | about 8 years ago | (#16087433)

endanger China's national security, reputation and interests



Although we dont have any specifc laws stating this if the media asks the right questions (or wrong as it were) and crosses the line then then the shit hits the fan. Of course nobody goes to jail like perhaps might happen in China but you can be sure heads will roll, which has the same effect of keeping things in check. Take the Andrew Gilligan [wikipedia.org] /Greg Dyke [wikipedia.org] business a few years ago. The UK government released a dossier [wikipedia.org] outlining the justification for war in Iraq which provided no evidence and lacked any substance whatsoever and Andrew Gilligan reported this. He was quickly sacked but Greg Dyke supported him, subsequently Greg Dyke was sacked, the Director-General of the BBC.


I think the point trying to be made is that exaclty the same thing is expected of the media in the west, we just go about it more subtley.

I don't know about you... (1)

zoloto (586738) | about 8 years ago | (#16087306)

I don't know about you but after this part:

<i>"According to Xinhuanet.com</i>

I stopped reading. Take your own stand and don't even listen to this kind of crap coming from known liars and murders.

Chinese information accuracy suspect (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16087064)

As someone who is in China, I read the English version of the "China Daily" as often as it is delivered to me.

This is a paper you would be within your rights to class as an "official English newspaper" from the Chinese government.

But guess what?

It contains mistakes. The reports found within, if they are the official story, are erroneous.

As alarming as it may be that the Chinese Government is trying to control what foreign publications publish in China, what is of greater concern is the dubious accuracy of their own reporting.

A case in point is a recent *front page* story on a lake where all of the fish died. The story in the paper ran with the excuse of the water temperature dropping from 40C down to 20C. If you do some research on oxygenation of water, you will find that the opposite is true: a lower water temperature holds more oxygen. Which then leads you to wonder, what really happened? (Most likely the continued hot weather caused the water to become too hot and the fish were going to die whether the temperature dropped or not.)

This is not an isolated incident in the reports I read of the English version of "China daily".

Until the Chinese can get the facts and figures straight/correct, punishing outside news agencies for reporting something differently than the "official story" is ridiculous.

FWIW, if you watch CNN, on the weekend they ran a story about 30 years after Mao's death. In China this was shown up until the point of where it started to show black and white film.

Re:Chinese information accuracy suspect (1)

kfg (145172) | about 8 years ago | (#16087243)

Until the Chinese can get the facts and figures straight/correct, punishing outside news agencies for reporting something differently than the "official story" is ridiculous.

I am not sure you fully understand that the official story is the correct one.

KFG

Olympic schizophenia (4, Interesting)

1u3hr (530656) | about 8 years ago | (#16087065)

With the Beijing Olympics in 2008, they're obliged to allow foreign news reporters virtually free access. But at the same time the old guard is deeply suspicious of foreign media. So you see opening on one hand, clamp down with the other. The country needs the Internet for business, but wants to lock it down to prevent free political discussion. Obviously self-contradictory policies like these can't work practically. In the long run, the media will be free, but in the short term, a lot of people could get ground up. For instance, several reporters, ethnic Chinese but usually foreign citizens, are in jail for long terms for "espionage", reporting "state secrets" for reporting economic statistics, or interviewing people the government would rather stay out of the limelight.

As 2008 approaches, look for a lot of activity on this front.

Re:Olympic schizophenia (1)

kamapuaa (555446) | about 8 years ago | (#16087174)

But at the same time the old guard is deeply suspicious of foreign media.

If only! "Old guard" implies that it's a limited faction of the reactionary wing of the party - probably in fact, old people with a temporary hold on power. Really, the tightening of media & Internet controls has been stepped up under the rule of Hu Jintao, who can be viewed as a pretty mainstream Chinese political figure, otherwise in favor of a more international China.

And honestly I don't see the Beijing 2008 Olympics as a great force for open reporting. That lasts 3 weeks or so? And beyond puff pieces of what it's like to slurp noodles from the hotel restaurant, or the actual Olympic events, I don't imagine much reporting on China will be going on.

1984 (1)

Mr2cents (323101) | about 8 years ago | (#16087066)

How funny, in Orwell's 1984 the party did also "demand rectifications" of facts. They weren't falsifying historic records, noooo sir. The party had it's thruth, and the press had to follow. If the party changed it's mind, all records had to be changed too. In fact, it has always been that way.

Ironic (0)

gundamstuff (822388) | about 8 years ago | (#16087067)

It's pretty ironic that china decides to tighten free speech when internet use is exploding exponentionally. When will people learn you can't control, regulate or do much of anything with the internet?

Re:Ironic (4, Interesting)

mcrbids (148650) | about 8 years ago | (#16087091)

When will people learn you can't control, regulate or do much of anything with the internet?

They never will, because it's not true.

What's that you say?

At its heart, the Internet is simply a form of communication. All other forms of communication are regulated, why wouldn't the Internet? The fact that it's new doesn't mean that it's un-regulatable so much as the powers that be haven't regulated it... yet.

Give it time. And then the "next big thing" will come along, and the Internet will be no more interesting than a ham radio today.

Re:Ironic (1)

mcrbids (148650) | about 8 years ago | (#16087111)

What's that you say?

You can't regulate the airwaves?

Except that you can - sure people can build pirate radio equipment, but they can also rob houses. (just as illegal) People choose not to for various reasons - legallity being one of them.

I'm not so sure (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16087396)

Give it time. And then the "next big thing" will come along, and the Internet will be no more interesting than a ham radio today.

I'm not so sure there will be "another" big thing in interpersonal communications conceptually. Ham radio is a means, the internet is also that but what we had with the internet was a breakthough into a wild new frontier for most of the global population. While I see technological progress in the future, I don't see conceptual progress. Now that the frontier has been opened I simply see increasing restriction.

The internet was an enabler`that allowed people to transcent government and geographic barriers to exercise freedom of thought, expression and information. In essence, the internet decentralised power and gave birth to the premise of the hive mind and global Democracy of the people while at the same time allowing nearly limitless exploration into new and uncharted virtual worlds.

What then would be the next big thing to top that?

Mans individual and unfettered ability to leave the planet and sustain himself while exploring the galaxies?

It would have to be something of that magnitude which I don't see happening for a very long time.

What we have in the here and now is an unprecedented opportunity that the legislative bodies of government and the plotters of human exploitation is hell bent to screw the fuck up and so far have managed to do a good job of it and at that, are just getting started.

Distrust news from dictatorships (-1, Troll)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | about 8 years ago | (#16087086)

Let's hope this makes people think twice about the truth value of news coming from dictatorships without a free press.

Not just China, unfortunately, but for a long list :

China
North Korea
Iran
Afghanistan
Iraq
Palestine ... etc ...

Re:Distrust news from dictatorships (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16087134)

you forgot Jesus.

Re:Distrust news from dictatorships (1)

phaze3000 (204500) | about 8 years ago | (#16087154)

Actually Palestine had democratic elections - unfortunately they were won by Hamas, a terrorist organisation. This rather puts the west in a tricky position - what do you do when people democratically elect extremely objectionable leaders?

Talk to them, like we talked to Sinn Fein (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16087169)

Recall that US dictates who gets to be called a terrorist organisation.

Hamas chose a moderate Palestinian Prime Minister to meet Israel half way. That move to moderation should have been met with a carrot not a stick. Just because the leadership was objectionable to Israel, it shouldn't automatically be objectionable to the world. What if Sinn Fein was kept out of politics just because they are the political wing of the IRA?

Re:Talk to them, like we talked to Sinn Fein (1)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | about 8 years ago | (#16087373)

Maybe (maybe) he's a moderate now (let's hope he has to be, it is certainly true that extremists have a tendency to become moderates when they come to power), but at least in his youth he was not. He denied, or at least trivialized the holocaust in his doctoral thesis.

Here's his wikipedia bio :

Abbas was born in 1935 in Safed, then part of the British Mandate of Palestine. His family became refugees during the war of 1948 and settled in Syria. In Syria he taught school and graduated from the University of Damascus before going to Egypt where he studied law. Subsequently, Abbas entered graduate studies at the Peoples' Friendship University of Russia in Moscow, where he earned a Ph.D. in history. In 1982, Abbas wrote a doctoral dissertation, referring to so-called "Holocaust deniers", claiming secret ties between the Nazis and the Zionist movement. In 1984, a book based on Abbas' doctoral dissertation was published in Arabic by Dar Ibn Rushd publishers in Amman, Jordan. His doctoral thesis later became a book, The Other Side: the Secret Relationship Between Nazism and Zionism, which, following his appointment as Palestinian Prime Minister in 2003, was heavily criticized as an example of Holocaust denial, but corroborated by the Jewish German writer Hanna Arendt in her book "The Banality of Evil" . In his book, Abbas raised doubts that gas chambers were used for the extermination of Jews, and suggested that the number of Jews killed in the Holocaust was "less than a million." In an interview with Haaretz in May 2003, he claimed merely to have been quoting the wide range of scholarly disagreement over the Holocaust, but no longer harbored any desire to argue with the generally accepted figures; he further affirmed his belief that "the Holocaust was a terrible, unforgivable crime against the Jewish nation, a crime against humanity that cannot be accepted by humankind". [2]

Re:Distrust news from dictatorships (1)

chefren (17219) | about 8 years ago | (#16087173)

Accept their decision. Especially if the elected party does not begin to dismantle the democracy under which they were elected. Democracys greatest flaw is that it can self-destruct. But so can all other non-utopian/dystopian forms of governments.

Re:Distrust news from dictatorships (1)

johanw (1001493) | about 8 years ago | (#16087240)

Actually Palestine had democratic elections - unfortunately they were won by Hamas, a terrorist organisation. This rather puts the west in a tricky position - what do you do when people democratically elect extremely objectionable leaders?
What can you do? The same holds for a country like the USA. We can choose to break diplomatic relations with those war mongers in the white house, or try to make the best of it. As long as the country stays democratic one can hope for a peacefull change of regime.

Re:Distrust news from dictatorships (1)

geirhell (988825) | about 8 years ago | (#16087177)

Hm, I thought Afghanistan and Iraq was liberated already by the great Uncle Sam???

Re:Distrust news from dictatorships (1)

mjwx (966435) | about 8 years ago | (#16087195)

Let's hope this makes people think twice about the truth value of news coming from dictatorships without a free press.

Not just China, unfortunately, but for a long list :

China

North Korea

Iran

Afghanistan

Iraq

Palestine ... etc ...



Better add the US to that list.

Re:Distrust news from dictatorships (1)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | about 8 years ago | (#16087383)

Why ? When was the last journalist killed in the US for writing his mind ? China executed some just last month, and so did Iran.

You left out Israel. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16087206)

But that's okay...to err is human.

Re:Distrust news from dictatorships (1)

Jussi K. Kojootti (646145) | about 8 years ago | (#16087244)

Let's hope this makes people think twice about the truth value of news...

No need to be any more specific. History is written by winners and every story has a POV. Some reporters/newspapers may strive to be objective, but that doesn't make their story "the truth".

Re:Distrust news from dictatorships (1)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | about 8 years ago | (#16087363)

Another problem with reporters ... some (like china) just plainly lie. I was quite surprised to find this blog report [blogspot.com] .

What does one trust ? It's a hard question these days.

You forgot (1)

Epeeist (2682) | about 8 years ago | (#16087304)

You forgot to include information coming from organisations like Murdoch's "News International".

There may not be (too many) restrictions on the press in the West, but what use is this if the news organisations distort the news for their own interests.

Re:You forgot (1)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | about 8 years ago | (#16087388)

This falls imho under "you have the right to free expression" - "I have the right to not listen" combo

Thanks for anonet! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16087416)

thank god i use anonet [anonet.org] to submit my work from within one of those listed spaces.

the Measures... (3, Interesting)

svunt (916464) | about 8 years ago | (#16087097)

If The Measures isn't the best Orwellian name possible for a set of repressive rules, I don't know what is.

How progressive! (1)

Chas (5144) | about 8 years ago | (#16087126)

Yes, I can see that China is moving towards a modern, realistic form of government by leaps and bounds here!

[Dr. Evil] No...not really...

I wonder which "good citizen" thought up THIS brain-damaged policy.

i find it sad (2, Insightful)

dualmoo (997181) | about 8 years ago | (#16087151)

i find it sad that most of the big companies (yes, even google) are complying, just because china is such a huge potential market.

especially for news agencies, what a better way to defend freedom of press than to comply with these regulations !

Still to see how will it interact with... (1)

afa (801481) | about 8 years ago | (#16087163)

While the conservatives in China are in presumable fear that the extension of freedom on information in China will cause more controversy on both social and political issues, which the old generation in the country are not familiar with, the youth do not seem adept to handle with such issues as well. The lack of a good tradition of democracy and the long-lasting habit of authoritarianism dating back to, perhaps, thousands of years ago, finally weaved the current dilemna of 'mordern' China, which requires a fast switch from tradition to mordern in all levels, aspects, perspectives, culturally and psychologically.

The insolvable question which direction China will go is still implicit for all observers around this world. Like an subtle differential equation that has a chaotic solution, the result relies on two sorts of not-so-unreliable variables - that is, what is it now and how we are going to change it.

Why the surprise? (3, Insightful)

Swampwulf (875465) | about 8 years ago | (#16087164)

No one of any import has ever bothered to stand up to the news agencies there up till now. No one wants to risk having access to all those Chinese revenues cut off.
Seems simple logic to me. Give a bully what he demands often enough and they begin to see it as their right.

We Demand That We May Or May Not Make Demands! (2, Interesting)

saihung (19097) | about 8 years ago | (#16087179)

So the cost of being a journalist in China is that you're not allowed to be a journalist in China?
Stuff 'em. If all they want is sanitized misinformation, let them manufacture it themselves. They make everything else anyway, so it shouldn't be a big deal.

At least China has a clear policy (2, Funny)

noidentity (188756) | about 8 years ago | (#16087182)

'Where a foreign news agency violates the Measures in one of the following manners, Xinhua News Agency shall give it a warning, demand rectification within a prescribed time limit, suspend its release of specified content, suspend or cancel its qualifications of a foreign news agency for releasing news and information in China, on the merits of each case.'

If only the US's news censorship policy were this straightforward and clearly documented, it'd be a lot easier to comply with it! Maybe China can set an example.

Re:At least China has a clear policy (2, Informative)

afa (801481) | about 8 years ago | (#16087242)

IMHO, cannot agree with you.

Since the most questionable in laws and measures of China is that almost every, if not all, clauses have such saying as 'And conditions claimed by other laws and measures.', which empower the judiciary too much variabilities.

Note that China follows the German system of laws, instead of Britain one that U.S. follows.

Though the PRC legal system is a large civil law system, reflecting the influence of Continental Europe legal systems especially German civil law system in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
-from Law of the People's Republic of China, wikipedia

Re:At least China has a clear policy (1)

Submarine (12319) | about 8 years ago | (#16087347)

It is, in my humble opinion, rather ridiculous to group together Germany and China on the one hand, the US on the other hand, if only because in China there is no real "rule of law" - that is, a lot of things are subject to arbitrary decisions.

Get our own houses in order (1, Flamebait)

Anonimouse (934959) | about 8 years ago | (#16087184)

Here we go with the China bashing again. Criticism from countries which comply with all the international laws for human rights and freedom of speech need only apply. So that discounts the US, UK and a large swaythe of the european countries. I mean who ever heard of news being censored in the US or UK. No way never happened. And of course our government agencies would never try to discredit anybody trying to tell a story other than the offical government line. Never. Oh wait. "Dr David Kelly" anyone?. How about the Pentagon's censoring images of coffins coming home. Or maybe the outing of Valerie Plame? And of course the official story is always correct. WMDs anyone? No? how about some Tillman? We need to get our *own* houses in order before we lay into some other country's ethics on free speech and personal liberties when it comes issues of national reputation/security.

Re:Get our own houses in order (2, Insightful)

tygerstripes (832644) | about 8 years ago | (#16087233)

You're right in saying that no country is whiter than white.

However, you do need to put it in perspective. Pretty much all of the UK citations you make were cases where the government put a spin on their own releases (or plain lied), which appears to be the role of government everywhere. The news agencies themselves were not prevented from reporting as they saw fit on what the government said and did, and that's the real issue here.

Again, I ain't saying it's perfect, but the Beeb is pretty much free to report whatever it sees as pertinent (how true that is today and how long that will remain so seems uncertain, which bothers me a lot).

It's fair enough to point out that nobody can "cast the first stone", as it were, but then you seem to be saying that nobody has the right to criticise this story because their own governments have dirty laundry...? It think it's the right to criticise governments that is at stake here, so I don't see how your condition is helpful. By that same rule, nobody from China would be able to criticise either, and that's what got us here in the first place...

Re:Get our own houses in order (1)

Anonimouse (934959) | about 8 years ago | (#16087274)

I concur with some of what you are saying. However I would definitely take issue with "The news agencies themselves were not prevented from reporting as they saw fit". That clearly is not the case. at least in the US. As with so many things in the US, items of news may be censored (for supposed reasons of national security/war on terror etc etc.) and the public would not even know about it unless it somehow filtered out through a blog or something. With regards to the impression that i don't think people have a right to criticse government; well maybe i gave the wrong impression. They should have a right to, of that i have no doubt. Hell, i'm a vociferous critic of my own government. But my point is the incessant slagging down on Slashdot of other countries that don't conform to a US/Western ideal is so incredibly tiresome that it detracts from what is otherwise an entertaining read. Most comments to that effect have no weighting given to similar occurances in the poster's own country either because they are ignorant of it or are too lazy to cite it. It gives a totally lopsided view of the world. No doubt the ignorance of such posters show. But it is annoying in the extreme and does nothing for our reputation in the west for imposing *our* views on the rest of the world.

Re:Get our own houses in order (1)

tygerstripes (832644) | about 8 years ago | (#16087313)

Very true - we are an arrogant culture, let's face it. Slashdot is as biased as any open forum, but hopefully moderation does something to keep our more flagrant leanings in check.

I do have every sympathy for those in the US as well. The government there has to be more subtle about things than China, true, but bit by bit things are getting just as bad over there... and sadly, I expect the UK government to follow suit. Apathy will be the end of us all.

Just tell all your clients to move to New Zealand and wait it out ;-)

Re:Get our own houses in order (3, Interesting)

youguessedit (996710) | about 8 years ago | (#16087252)

The censorship situation in the US/England/Europe is in no way comparable to the degree of control they have in China. Does everything really have to be 0 or 1 to you? Being 1% bad is the same as being 70% bad?

Nothing is every going to be perfect in any country. But pretending that you can't rate things along a scale is just being intellectually unserious.

Would you rather have access to news available while you're in the US or news available to you while you're in China?

I've lived in China for almost four years. When SARS broke in the Western and Hong Kong media, none of my friends here new about it for months. I distinctly remember the night when Beijing released the news. No one was on the bus the next day.

When there was the power transfer to Pres. Hu, there really was a media blackout. I can usually get CNN, NYTimes and the WoPo (but not Wikipedia, the BCC or some blogs), but nothing was available then.

If you think it's just as bad at home as it is here, then fine. Get your news from Xinhua. I'll take take Western news any day.

Re:Get our own houses in order (1)

Anonimouse (934959) | about 8 years ago | (#16087302)

Of course you are right in that censorship is far worse in China. And you cite execellent examples. My rant was really directed at most of the other posters on this story and similar ones bashing other countries. You could probably count on the fingers of one hand (exageration intended) the number of balanced posts such as yours. A fair few others are just baseless xenophobia and streotyping.

Re:Get our own houses in order (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16087326)

Criticism from countries which comply with all the international laws for human rights and freedom of speech need only apply.

Tell that to the US bashers, they're frothing at the mouth as is their house is in disorder.

Re:Get our own houses in order (1)

Fengpost (907072) | about 8 years ago | (#16087355)

Yes, the U.S. may be only getting a B- in freedom and civil liberties, but China is failing miserably. At least the Americans have the RIGHT to question authorities! Disclaimer: I am Chinese.

Re:Get our own houses in order (1)

Anonimouse (934959) | about 8 years ago | (#16087367)

"At least the Americans have the RIGHT to question authorities". A government can give a "right" to anybody about anything. That is cheap. It is whether that right is upheld that is meaningful. If it is subverted by the very same governement that gives that right, it is worthless. I can cite numerous example where people have questioned government authority and had their lives ruined. And i'm not talking about China (yes or course it is applicable to China), i'm talking about the US and UK.

A good thing! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16087229)

This will stop the US propaganda which is desperately trying to destabilize china and force an unneeded war on them in order to "Liberate" them.

I'm from Europe. But what I wrote above it exactly what the majority of the world expects from your administration(s) in the long run.

Don't worry, read their constitution.... (1)

ragingsamster (798408) | about 8 years ago | (#16087238)

Article 35 Citizens of the People's Republic of China enjoy freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of procession and of demonstration. ( http://www.npc.gov.cn/zgrdw/english/constitution/c onstDetail.jsp?pages=3 [npc.gov.cn] ) But then again, is news speech? Is an opinion speech? If you look at their constitution, it provides for all the freedoms one might want and the support of a caring government.

And how Xinhua intend to enforce it? (1)

S3D (745318) | about 8 years ago | (#16087263)

Major news agency can outsource thier reporting operations to "independent" reporters, who could send their reports encripted. Soviet Russia [:)] tried to enforce such a ban, during the time than there was no internet and international phone conversation were few and expensive, with very limited success. All that they achievd was that mostly worst and exaggerated news got out and created "Empire of Evil" image.

CHICOMS will be CHICOMS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16087266)

- what else is new?

Great "Digital" Wall of China (2, Insightful)

LemonFire (514342) | about 8 years ago | (#16087275)

I just can't help thinking that the new Great Digital Wall of China will be as ineffective to stop the information flow as the old Great Wall of China was at stopping The Manchus around 400 years ago.

Unfortunately?? there will be no traces left after the digital one... once this is past history.

"The grass is not, in fact, always greener on the other side of the fence. Fences have nothing to do with it. The grass is greenest where it is watered. When crossing over fences, carry water with you and tend the grass wherever you may be."

- Robert Fulghum


Now this is censorship. (1)

WgT2 (591074) | about 8 years ago | (#16087391)

There's a lesson in this.

Hey Dixie Chicks [capmag.com] , and the rest of your mistreated ilk [rockthevote.org] , do you now know what censorship is?

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