China’s ruling communists are introducing laws that prohibit foreign media companies from posting content online without official approval, but this is something they’ve already been doing in practice, says an academic.
When it comes to China’s Internet, explicit censorship powers are already in place, says Paul Gillis, a visiting professor at Peking University’s Guanghua School of Management.
“From a practical standpoint it’s not much different,” Prof. Gillis told AP.
“There was tough regulation of anything online before and they shut down anything they thought disrupts social order,” he said.
“But a lot of what might have been common practices before are being put into legislation so China can argue it’s operating under the rule of law,” he added.
The regime announced last week that foreign or partly foreign owned companies need to have approval to publish words, pictures, maps, games, animation, and sound of an “informational and thoughtful nature,” reported AP.
Wholly Chinese-owned companies are allowed to publish online, but are expected to adhere to strict self-censorship guidelines.
Media watchdogs and rights organizations point out that the Chinese government’s Internet regulations are among the most wide-ranging and restrictive in the world. According to U.S. based Freedom House, China was ranked as the worst country for Internet freedom out of 65 countries in 2015.
Not only does the Communist Party attempt to control information inside China, it’s trying to do likewise abroad.
“China is increasingly waging an international war against freedom of information,” said Benjamin Ismaïl, the head of the Reporters Without Borders’ Asia-Pacific desk.
To do this, Ismaïl says that Beijing uses its economic clout to get what it wants.
“Its successful ‘exportation’ of this fight is due above all to the passivity of western countries preoccupied with trying to trade with this economic giant. In the past, the international community tried to make China change. Now it is the opposite,” he said.
For how the Chinese government is increasingly controlling what types of movies are being produced by Hollywood, watch this episode of China Uncensored: