In the latest sign that China’s long-touted “opening up” is reversing into a “closing down,” a Chinese ministry has issued new rules that ban any foreign-invested company from publishing anything online in China, effective next month.
The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology’s new rules (link in Chinese) could, if they were enforced as written, essentially shut down China as a market for foreign news outlets, publishers, gaming companies, information providers, and entertainment companies starting on March 10. Issued in conjunction with the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SARFT), they set strict new guidelines for what can be published online, and how that publisher should conduct business in China.
“Sino-foreign joint ventures, Sino-foreign cooperative ventures, and foreign business units shall not engage in online publishing services,” the rules state. Any publisher of online content, including “texts, pictures, maps, games, animations, audios, and videos,” will also be required to store their “necessary technical equipment, related servers, and storage devices” in China, the directive says.
Quartz contacted the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology from Hong Kong asking for further clarification on how the rules would work, but the ministry said it could only reply to faxed questions that came from a reporter with a mainland press card.
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