China drops Caixin Media from list of official publications; WeChat, Weibo added

The crackdown on Caixin Media, respected for its investigative stories, comes amid the China’s efforts to tighten the flow of information. The expanded list has added mobile apps and China’s Twitter-like Weibo and WeChat social media accounts.
Staffers walk past a billboard ‘Read Caixin - Know China Better’ at the Caixin Media offices in Beijing. China has removed Caixin Media from a list of official news outlets that can be republished by other internet news providers. The new list has added mobile apps and China’s Twitter-like Weibo and WeChat social media accounts. (AP)
Staffers walk past a billboard ‘Read Caixin - Know China Better’ at the Caixin Media offices in Beijing. China has removed Caixin Media from a list of official news outlets that can be republished by other internet news providers. The new list has added mobile apps and China’s Twitter-like Weibo and WeChat social media accounts. (AP)
Updated on Oct 21, 2021 04:48 PM IST
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BySutirtho Patranobis I Edited by Amit Chanda

China has removed Caixin Media, one of the country’s most independent and well known business publications, from an expanded list of news sources from which other online news providers are allowed to reprint content.

The expanded list has added mobile apps and China’s Twitter-like Weibo and WeChat social media accounts run by official media sources for the first time.

The crackdown on Caixin Media, respected for its investigative stories, comes amid the Chinese government’s efforts to tighten the flow of information as well as wide-ranging regulatory curbs implemented on e-commerce and education sectors, social media as well as reality television and artistes.

China’s internet watchdog, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) dropped Caixin from a list of 1,358 news outlets and government agencies whose content can be republished.

Online platforms are barred from publishing content from non-approved sources, the CAC said in a statement published on its website on Wednesday.

Caixin Media was on the previous list, published in 2016.

Another independent Chinese newspaper, The Economic Observer, was also dropped from this year’s list.

The CAC said that outlets removed from the latest list “no longer meet requirements, have poor daily performance and lack influence”. The aim was to maintain the “seriousness and credibility” of the list, it said.

The CAC said that from now on, when online news service providers reprint news information, they must follow the latest version of the “List of Internet News Information Sources”, and those “…who reprint beyond the scope will be punished in accordance with laws and regulations”.

The omitting of Caixin Media means that its stories cannot be shared on China’s hugely popular online platforms like WeChat and Twitter-like Weibo.

The ban could impact the outlet’s advertisement flow as well.

Besides investigative stories related to business, corruption and pollution, Caixin’s coverage of the initial days of the Covid-19 pandemic in the central Chinese city of Wuhan was widely appreciated.

Most recently, it had done a series of in-depth stories on China’s crippling power shortage.

“Caixin is among the few news outlets in China that criticise government officials for perceived shortcomings. In 2016, it took the unprecedented step of reporting on how one of its own articles had been deleted by the Cyberspace Administration of China, exposing a practice that the government has sought to keep out of the public eye,” Bloomberg said in a report on Caixin’s ouster.

The outlet had highlighted the issue of censorship in China in a rare show of defiance against the Communist government after an interview of a government adviser was removed from its website.

Then helmed by one of China’s most well-known journalists Hu Shuli, it put out a bold rejoinder on its English language website after China’s multi-layered censors removed an earlier interview of the adviser who had called for freedom of speech.

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Saturday, January 22, 2022