Chinese government threatens to shut down news service

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) expresses concern over reports that the State Council Information Office threatened to shut down an online news service following complaints over news reports.

According to Xinhua, China’s state-owned media, the State Council Information Office, the regulating internet office in China, threatened to shut down online news service, Sina unless they started regulating their news content. On April 10, the State Council Information Office said that they had received 6038 complaints against Sina, a US listed company, since the beginning of the year. The complaints claimed that Sina reports ‘distorted facts, violated public morality and posted vulgar information’. The State Council Information Office said that Sina had violated the Regulation on Internet Information Service of China and the Administration of Internet News Information Services Provisions, however they would not specific which regulations and provisions had been violated or what news reports had received the complaints.

The State Council Information Office criticized Sina, saying: “they sabotaged the network order, violated public interest, resulting in an adverse social impact.”

Sina responded by saying they were working to rectify the situation and strictly abide by the laws. They wanted to be a news service that “disseminates positive energy and bear social responsibility.”

The IFJ Asia Pacific office said: “Regulatory bodies have duties to regulate the industry; however they also have a responsibility to ensure their decisions are fair and just. Section 19 of the Administration of Internet News Information Service Provisions states that rumors are not allowed to be published; yet there is a lack of definition of what a rumor is.”

The IFJ urges Lu Wei, the Director of the State Council Information Office to make public the evidence of the case against Sina and explain the Office’s decision to the public.