On October 12, 2016, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported that an order has been issued to ban Chinese media from republishing Caixin‘s original content. The order, given on October 11, was from the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), Beijing’s central Internet censorship, oversight, and control agency and is to remain in effect for 60 days. Caixin is a leading Chinese media for publishing original content on finance, the economy, and social governances.
RFA cited reports indicating that the immediate trigger for the ban may have been Caixin‘s recent coverage, now deleted, of 168 lawyers’ signing an appeal to oppose new regulations from the State Council. The rules reinforce the Chinese Communist Party’s control over law firms, requiring them not to “indulge or condone” their staff in conducting a wide range of specified activities.
Cheng Xiaonong, an officer in the People’s Republic of China and a frequent guest speaker at Voice of America (VOA), observed in a VOA panel discussion that Caixin‘s punishment, though lenient, serves as a warning to other media in China to back off from stepping on red lines. Panelists who participated in the VOA discussion held the consensus that Caixin gained prominence by serving as a bridge to help the world know about China and, at the same time, helping China know about the outside world. They agreed that having backing from Wang Qishan, head of Beijing’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) in the ongoing campaign of targeting high ranking corrupt officials, is likely the reason why it wasn’t punished more severely. At the same time, as Beijing’s infighting has been heating up, media organizations which strive to offer views more or less independent from the Party line also face the dilemma of being pulled deeper into the escalating infighting within the highest level of Beijing’s leadership.
Radio Free Asia, October 12, 2016
Voice of America, October 14, 2016