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Thursday, 9 August, 2001, 14:53 GMT 15:53 UK
New rules for Chinese media
Chinese read newspapers
Some Chinese media have defied news blackouts
By Duncan Hewitt in Shanghai

China has announced new rules governing small newspapers and magazines.

Regulations ban articles which spread rumours, reveal state secrets or go against the work of the government or Communist Party.

The regulations appear to reflect growing official unease at the development of China's media

Violators face closure and small publications will also be merged or reorganised.

The announcement comes after several cases of officials seeking to censor Chinese media reports.

The state press and publications administration said many of China's smaller newspapers and magazines had published false, exaggerated or vulgar reports with a serious impact on society.

Chinese newspaper vendor
The new regulations define seven types of banned reporting
It defined seven types of banned reporting, ranging from revealing state secrets and damaging the national interest to contradicting Marxism-Leninism and promoting violence, depravity or superstition.

Regions where two publications are closed down within one year will not be allowed to approve any new newspapers or magazines for another 12 months.

The regulations appear to reflect growing official unease at the development of China's media.

More outlets

Increasing commercialisation has led to an unprecedented mushrooming of new magazines, local newspapers and websites, all competing for readers with increasingly varied stories on social issues, corruption and, in some cases, sex scandals and celebrity gossip.

Just last week local journalists in south-western China defied a local news blackout on an accident at a tin mine which left at least 80 people dead.

Their reports, published in papers in other provinces, forced the central government to investigate the incident.

But while some officials have spoken of the need for greater media scrutiny, there is clear concern at the boldness of some journalists, particularly ahead of a sensitive Communist Party congress next year.

A number of editors have recently been sacked, including one whose paper reported on a case of alleged organ theft.

Yet the increasing variety of outlets available to Chinese journalists, particularly the internet, have made complete news blackouts harder to impose than ever before.

Several newspapers and magazines continue to publish stories on sensitive issues ranging from secret societies to the problems with China's much-vaunted village elections.

The BBC's Duncan Hewitt
"Revealing state secrets... to contradicting Marxism"
See also:

27 Apr 01 | Media reports
Chinese media squares up to US
09 Jan 01 | Asia-Pacific
China's changing media
04 Aug 01 | Asia-Pacific
China confirms mine disaster
09 Aug 01 | Asia-Pacific
China admits Aids crisis
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