“not a laughing matter”
Living in the middle of this rapidly exploding economy, it is sometimes easy to forget that it is also a very carefully controlled and repressive dictatorship. Whether or not the two can reconcile remains to be seen, but a sharp reminder of what it is like to live in a police state came home today.
The Chinese government has announced strict new regulations on the broadcasting of online videos – including those posted on video-sharing websites – restricting them to sites run by state-controlled companies.
The new rules also require service providers to report questionable content to the government and “abide by the moral code of socialism”.
It was not clear how the new rules would affect YouTube and other providers of internet video that host websites available in China but based in other countries.
“Those who provide internet video services should insist on serving the people, serve socialism… and abide by the moral code of socialism”
Chinese internet regulations
The rules are aimed at stopping what the government calls “degenerate thinking” via the internet and maintaining a “healthy online environment”.
Pro-democracy websites are blocked, as are the sites of many international news organisations, and a force of about 30,000 internet police are thought to monitor the web for anything seen as undesirable content.
The government has also introduced strict regulations on bloggers, requiring them to register under their real names and allowing only a few providers to operate blogging sites.
The new video regulations, which take effect at the end of January, were approved by the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television and the information ministry.
Sites that provide video programming or allow users to upload video will have to obtain government permits and applicants must be either state-owned or state-controlled companies.
According to the regulations: “Those who provide internet video services should insist on serving the people, serve socialism… and abide by the moral code of socialism.”
With a population of over 1.3 billion, the Chinese certainly have enough people to monitor the Internet, and they seem to take this monitoring fairly seriously. We’re used to posting anything we want, any time, or getting access to same. That is not the way it is in China, and not the way it is going to be for some time, apparently.
The new regulations, similar to those in place for news services, will ban providers from broadcasting video that involves national secrets, hurts the reputation of China, disrupts social stability or promotes pornography.
Providers will be required to delete and report such content to the authorities while major violators could see themselves banned for up to five years.
China has an estimated 150 million internet users and is expected to soon overtake the US as the world leader in online population.