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China Eyes Banning Foreign Online News


FILE - A man surfs the Internet on his laptop computer at a cafe in Beijing, China, Feb. 16, 2015.
FILE - A man surfs the Internet on his laptop computer at a cafe in Beijing, China, Feb. 16, 2015.

The Chinese government will potentially block foreign current affairs content from being shown in the country, according to draft regulations from its National Radio and Television Administration.

The regulations, obtained Thursday by Reuters, will clamp down on what kinds of shows may be aired on domestic television stations or online video platforms. Current affairs shows were singled out as being barred from the country.

Also forbidden by the draft regulations were foreign content that contains violence, terrorism, incitement to crime, endangerment of social stability or material deemed harmful to national sentiment.

The regulations also target film and animation.

The Chinese government is in the midst of a push to restrict online content. Earlier this month, it banned the website of the Australian Broadcasting Company, telling the public news organization that China's internet was “fully open.”

"They're very sensitive, particularly to foreign content and of course independent-minded domestic Chinese content that's going to reach a mass audience, whether it's online or on television,"said Sarah Cook, a research analyst with censorship watchdog Freedom House.

China is known for the depth and reach of its censorship operations. Thousands of websites have been blocked in the country, inspiring the phrase “the Great Firewall of China.” Foreign journalists are routinely detained for their reporting, and virtually all domestic media capable of reaching a mass audience is tightly regulated.

In recent years, censorship has expanded past shaping political narratives into trying to mesh merge socialist values with national culture.

"All of this gotten a stronger push by President Xi Jinping in terms of socialist core values, socialism in China's characteristics in the new era. There's generally been an effort to really bring the party back in and to clamp down on various forms of content," Cook said.