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China moves to control foreign news agencies

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China moves to control foreign news agencies05/06/96 CHINA--News agencies that distribute business and economic information in China are subject to…

China moves to control foreign news agencies

05/06/96

CHINA–News agencies that distribute business and economic information in China are subject to the supervision of the government- run Xinhua News Agency, according to new regulations announced by the government in mid-April. The rules elaborate on a January government announcement ordering supervision by the news agency.

The detailed rules did not contain wording from the original announcement that news agencies could be punished if their information “slanders or jeopardizes the national interests of China,” according to the Associate Press.

Under these rules, Xinhua will supervise the economic news that is disseminated in China and providers will have to pay Xinhua a “monitoring fee.” The amount of the fees was not specified in the regulations, which state that rates will be determined separately.

Hundreds of Chinese firms use foreign economic information agencies and wire services for updates on markets worldwide. Xinhua’s new rules serve to regulate the price and content of the financial information that comes into the country, according to Associated Press vice president Claude Erbsen.

Xinhua said the rules were designed “to safeguard state sovereignty and protect the legal rights of users of economic information inside China,” according to AP.

However, U.S. officials, foreign news bureaus and journalists are critical of these new policies, saying that they could slow or disrupt the prompt delivery of economic news that businesses rely on to compete, according to Associated Press reports.

Erbsen says that news agencies will “probably have no choice” but to comply with the regulations, although he suspects that Xanhua is “trying to get a piece of the action on financial information services.”

“We object strenuously to anything that restricts the free flow of information or interferes with our ability to serve our subscribers,” Erbsen said.

In other efforts by the Chinese to control the foreign information that enters the country, the Beijing Hilton Hotel and the China Resources Hotel face “severe punishment” for illegally installing satellite dishes to receive international television, according to an early April report by Xinhua. It did not say what the penalty would be.