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China to Strengthen Its Controls Over the Internet


Visitors talk to staff members at a Google stand during the Global Mobile Internet Conference (GMIC) in Beijing, April 28, 2017. Google's search engine and email service remains blocked in mainland China but Chinese companies make use of its ad services to reach a global audience.

China will further tighten its internet regulations with a pledge Sunday to strengthen controls over search engines and online news portals, the latest step in President Xi Jinping’s push to maintain strict Communist Party control over content.

Xi has made China’s “cyber sovereignty” a top priority in his sweeping campaign to bolster security. He has also reasserted the ruling Communist Party’s role in limiting and guiding online discussion.

The five-year cultural development and reform plan released by the party and State Council, or Cabinet, calls for a perfecting of laws and rules related to the internet.

Qualifications for online reporters

That includes a qualification system for people working in online news, according to the plan, carried by the official Xinhua news agency.

“Strike hard against online rumors, harmful information, fake news, news extortion, fake media and fake reporters,” it said, without giving details.

Xi has been explicit that media must follow the party line, uphold the correct guidance on public opinion and promote “positive propaganda.”

The plan comes on top of existing tight internet controls, which includes the blocking of popular foreign websites such as Google and Facebook.

Security threat cited

The government last week issued tighter rules for online news portals and network providers. Regulators say such controls are necessary in the face of growing security threats, and are done in accordance with the law.

Speaking more broadly about the country’s cultural sector, the plan calls for efforts to reinforce and improve “positive propaganda.” The plan also calls for more effort to be put into promoting China’s point of view and cultural soft power globally, though without giving details.

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