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Now China 'bans' private investment in media organisations in bid to tighten the control over free speech

03:11 PM Oct 12, 2021 | FPJ Web Desk

Beijing: The Xi Jinping-led government in China has now included investment in media organisations to a list of 'banned investments' as part of its bid to tighten the control over free speech.

As per the measure posted in the Chinese Communist Party (CCP's) website, the State Development and Reform Commission (SDRC) said it is 'soliciting public opinion' on adding private sector investment in media organisations to a list of banned investments, Radio Free Asia reported.

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"The government is making sure that it controls its message, it won't hand over the pen to anyone else," a retired lecturer at Shanxi University adding, "It wants a dominating voice to rule over everything." The order stated that "organisations with no public sector investment shall not engage in business involving newsgathering, editing or broadcasting. "This order intends to curb private investments in news agencies, newspaper publishing groups, radio or television broadcasters, and providers of online news, editing services or publishers," the order stated.

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The government uses libel lawsuits, arrests, and other means to force Chinese journalists and media organizations to censor themselves. China blocks many US websites, including Facebook, Instagram, and some Google services

Besides the media, Beijing has also banned private investments in areas including political, economic, military, or diplomatic organisations, Radio Free Asia reported.

Meanwhile, China has also significantly increased its efforts to influence media coverage to improve the global narrative about itself. Beijing has been using media as an important tool for asserting power and enhancing its narrative in international discourse, China is bankrolling scholars, journalists, and experts abroad, censoring domestic media while keeping a tab on Chinese Diaspora abroad, The HK Post reported.

China has one of the world’s most restrictive media environments, relying on censorship to control information in the news, online, and on social media, as per a report by CFR. The government uses libel lawsuits, arrests, and other means to force Chinese journalists and media organizations to censor themselves. China blocks many US websites, including Facebook, Instagram, and some Google services.

China’s constitution affords its citizens freedom of speech and press, but the allows authorities to crack down on news stories by claiming that they expose state secrets and endanger the country. The definition of state secrets in China remains vague, allowing censorship of any information that authorities deem harmful to their political or economic interests.

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