News / Asia

China Party Mouthpiece Says No Internet Freedom Without Order

FILE - A man watches a TV news showing a YouTube video which is said to be showing a collision between a Chinese fishing boat, right, and a Japanese coast guard vessel off disputed islands in Tokyo.
FILE - A man watches a TV news showing a YouTube video which is said to be showing a collision between a Chinese fishing boat, right, and a Japanese coast guard vessel off disputed islands in Tokyo.
There can be no Internet freedom without order, China's top Communist Party newspaper said on Monday after several U.S. television shows were pulled from Chinese video sites, the latest signs of Beijing's tightening grip on online content.
The removal of the shows coincides with a broad crackdown on online freedom of expression that has intensified since President Xi Jinping came to power last year and drawn criticism from rights advocates at home and abroad.
Authorities last week also stepped up their battle against pornography, revoking some online publication licenses of one of China's largest Internet firms, Sina Corp, for allowing “lewd and pornographic” content.
“While ordinary people and governments have enjoyed the conveniences brought by the Internet, they have also in turn experienced the Internet's negative effects and hidden security dangers,” the People's Daily, the party's main mouthpiece, said in a commentary.
It was published under the pen name “Zhong Sheng”, meaning “Voice of China,” often used to give views on foreign policy.
“If you don't have Internet order, how can you have Internet freedom? Anyone enjoying and exercising their Internet rights and freedoms must not harm the public interest and cannot violate laws and regulations and public ethics,” the paper said.
Four U.S. television shows, The Big Bang Theory, The Practice, The Good Wife and NCIS, were ordered removed from video websites at the weekend by the government, the official Xinhua news agency said.
The series are all popular and it was not clear why these particular programs had been singled out.
Searches on Youku Tudou, Sohu and Tencent , which provide the shows, produced messages that the content was temporarily unavailable.
“I believe it's a standalone event and it doesn't represent a policy change toward American TV shows,” Sohu CEO Charles Zhang told a conference call with reporters.
The directive, he said, gave no explanation for the take-down notice and he declined to comment further. Youku Tudou and Tencent declined comment on the order.
Earlier on Monday, state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) told Reuters it had acquired the exclusive broadcasting rights for The Big Bang Theory, but did not specify whether or not the license was only for TV.
Tighter regulations
The removal of the shows followed a directive from the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) last month that tightened the process for broadcasting television programs and short films online.
Programs and films lacking licenses are not permitted to be shown online, according to the SARFT directive. Penalties include a warning and a fine and, in serious cases, a five-year ban on operations and investment in online programming.
But there are no specific regulations governing overseas TV programs licensed by Chinese websites, said one person who works at an online video site, adding that regulation was expected at some point but with a minor impact on the industry.
Nonetheless, the lack of clarity from both the government and the companies involved raises questions about whether foreign programs will be subject to greater scrutiny.
China's online video market was worth 12.8 billion yuan ($2.05 billion) in 2013, according to Chinese data firm iResearch. Market value is expected to almost triple by 2017.
SARFT has been in discussions with online video sites about greater control of their content since 2009, according to people familiar with the matter.
China maintains tight control over the media. Censorship is widespread, and Internet users cannot access information about many topics without special software to circumvent restrictions.
Online video sites are extremely popular and can act as a lodestone for comment on social issues.
The Communist Party last year renewed a campaign on online interaction, threatening legal action against people whose perceived rumors on microblogs like Sina Weibo, are reposted more than 500 times or seen by more than 5,000 people.
The campaign has muted online demands from advocates of transparency, who see it as a tool to punish Party critics

You May Like

Multimedia Brussels Schools, Metro Reopen Under Heavy Guard

City remains under the highest threat alert level due to what authorities have described as a 'serious and imminent' threat of attack

Video Debt-ridden Refugees Await Onslaught of Lebanese Winter

Aid agencies are attempting to reduce potentially devastating consequences of freezing conditions and snowstorms that killed eight last year, including three Syrian refugees

Americans Think About Strange Stuff at Thanksgiving

Millions of Americans are celebrating Thanksgiving, but they’re not necessarily thinking about turkey and stuffing

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs