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China hits blogs where it hurts

New regs fight 'unhealthy news'

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The Chinese government is taking action against bloggers and other sources of online news.

The new censorship means any organisation or individual must register with the authorities before providing news or operating an email distribution list. Portal sites are asked to give priority to government-approved copy rather than their own comment pieces, while the regulations also warn government bodies not to provide content to news websites without government permission.

The government wants to fight "unhealthy news stories that will easily mislead the public" following the May launch of its "smokeless war" against dissenting liberal elements it believes are backed by the US.

The rules are being updated for the first time since 2000. A government spokesman told government-approved news agency Xinhuanet: "It has lagged far behind the development of online news services, in technology, content and form. So it is necessary to have an updated version."

Xinhuanet continued: "Services that provide online news stories, that have bulletin board systems (BBS) or have the function of sending short messages containing news contents to individual mobile phones are all subject to the regulation."

With sentiments we take seriously at The Register, the new regs proclaim: "The foremost responsibility of news sites on the Internet is to serve the people, serve socialism, guide public opinion in the right direction, and uphold the interests of the country and the public good." Indeed.

More on the New York Times here, and on Xinhuanet here. The"smokeless war" is discussed further here. ®

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