China’s internet regulator responds to apparent blocking of HK newspaper sites


China’s internet regulator, asked about the apparent blocking of some online accounts of Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post, said on Friday that internet service providers were responsible for online content and had the right to shut down websites.

The comment came in response to a Reuters enquiry about reports that the social media accounts of Hong Kong’s biggest English-language daily newspaper had been blocked and that a critical online Chinese-language Caixin magazine article had been deleted.

“The state internet information office has enforcement responsibility, in accordance with the law, to carry out internet information content management and supervision,” the Cyberspace Administration of China said in a faxed statement.

“Internet information service providers take on the main responsibility for any law-breaking and harmful internet accounts that exist, and have the right in accordance with the relevant laws and rules and their user ‘service agreements’ to take measures including temporarily halting usage and cancelling registration.”

Chinese President Xi Jinping has embarked on an unprecedented effort to clamp down on the internet and censor opinions that do not fall in line with those of Communist Party leaders in Beijing.

The South China Morning Post has in recent weeks reported the mystery of five Hong Kong booksellers who dealt in gossipy books about Chinese leaders and went missing only to resurface in Chinese custody.

The five went missing over the past half year, sparking fears in the West Chinese authorities were overriding the “one country, two systems” formula protecting Hong Kong’s freedoms since its return to China from British rule in 1997.

China’s Foreign Ministry has said its law enforcement officials would never do anything illegal, especially not overseas, and called on foreign governments not to interfere in Hong Kong affairs.

The Post has also reported freely on anti-Beijing street protests in Hong Kong and the city’s annual commemoration of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests in Beijing, a subject considered taboo in mainland China.

SENSITIVE TIME

China’s influential state-backed tabloid Global Times published an article on Friday saying that while China was exploring a wider public discourse, particularly on the internet, limits to free speech were narrower in China than in the West.

The apparent blocking of the Post accounts comes during the roughly two-week annual National People’s Congress parliamentary session in Beijing, which has traditionally been a politically sensitive time.

The Weibo social media account of the Post shows a message saying: “Sorry, there’s an error with the account you’re trying to visit and it is temporarily unavailable.”

A search for the Post’s WeChat account doesn’t produce any results but scanning a QR code leads to a page that says: “Features for this blocked account not available.”

The newspaper’s website has a message saying it is not available.

The Post has not reported that it has been blocked and spokesman Michael Chu did not respond to repeated requests for comment on Thursday and Friday. A spokesman for Weibo Corp declined to comment, as did Tencent Holdings Ltd, the company that owns WeChat.

It was not immediately clear when the Post block began or why the newspaper was being blocked. Local media said the block began this week.

The Post has been blocked before, including during Hong Kong’s pro-democracy “Occupy” protests in 2014. Foreign media including Reuters, the New York Times and Bloomberg are routinely blocked in mainland China.

In December, Jack Ma’s Alibaba Group Holdings Ltd said it would buy the Post, raising concerns about its editorial independence.

Alibaba Executive Vice Chairman Joe Tsai at the time dismissed suggestions that Alibaba would compromise the newspaper’s editorial independence, but added the world needed “a plurality of views when it comes to China coverage”.

The Alibaba deal will be put to Post shareholders next week.

(Additional reporting by Anne Marie Roantree in HONG KONG and Ben Blanchard in BEIJING; Writing by Clare Baldwin in HONG KONG; Editing by Nick Macfie)

Source: Reuters “China’s internet regulator responds to apparent blocking of HK newspaper sites”

This blogger’s note: In socialist Chinese mainland, the government has the power of censorship while in capitalist Hong Kong, big money has the power of censorship. What if the Chinese Communist Party controls both the government and big money?

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3 Comments on “China’s internet regulator responds to apparent blocking of HK newspaper sites”

  1. Steve says:

    Alibaba Vice Chairman Joe Tsai stated perfectly, the world needed “a plurality of views when it comes to China coverage.” When the US demonises China their newspapers and media outlet joins in for the kill and omit the important keynote speech given by FM Wang Yi in relation to UNCLOS Article 298 – exclusionary arbitration on China’s sovereignty in the SCS.

    “What if the Chinese Communist Party controls the Government and big money”? China is in a transitional social state and by definition where the production, distribution and exchange should be regulated by Government rather than by private enterprises in which cooperation rather than competition guides economic activity.

    Without the forethought, planning and preparedness of China’s Communist Government in the last 4 decades, where would All these successful big money enterprises be? If China had not reformed and modernised politically and militarily, it would have been impossible to withstand the external threats of western hegemonism in the SCS, let alone to rule the nation. I believe that freedom of speech is Not to behave disruptively by speaking in a way to cause hostility or disagreement between people. A good example is the HK umbrella movement that brought society to a standstill for almost 3 months. The protesters are overriding the one country with two systems. Harmony is a virtue.

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    • Joseph says:

      Agreed. When China was founded, it was never said that its primary goal was to be like Western-style government. Whatever ‘achievements’ of right should stay within their borders. After all, Western priorities have no place not only in China, but in the rest of Asia, even the rest of the world as well. The unregulated freedom of press often used as weapon of subversion and controll. In Japan, the Western-controlled press has been used effectively to control the Japanese. In the early years of occupation of Japan, the press was not allowed to publish nationalistic thinking, only how great and mighty the American was, in a sense, they were writing the Japanese state of mind the way Soviet did in their propaganda. During 1990s, there were angers over rampant US troops raping Japanese women. Drunken sailors grabbed passerby young women and raping them publicly on the street. One incident was three soldiers, not drunk, grabbed a 12 years old school girl and raped her in American base for 3 days. Anti-American feeling was very high. In response, the Western-controlled press worked hard to dismiss the case. Over the decades, the press has worked hard to rewrite Japanese social order to promote an Americanized sex-crazed society that dismisses rape and promotes sex with white American was great, vindicating the American who still commits the act of rape towards the Japanese even today. Nowadays, even such news is dismissed as normal to be fuzzy about. In a sense, it is just like Phillipines the way the American likes it. I learned that before the American time, Phillipines was a respectable country unlike prostitution-common the way it is today. I wonder who is in their right mind would want to envision it for their country
      To satify the growing need for Japanese nationalism, the Western-controlled press introduced new enemy, China. Now the Japanese can forget the insolent American and fight China for the American. The little-known Shintaro Ishihara and Abe were promoted as ‘patriotic’ stars and given front page media highlights for maximum exosures. Now, when the purposes had been achieved, those two received no media attention at all. The Western-controlled press has put the Japanese in the position where they cannot advance and unthinkable to back down, with the benefiting party is solely the American.
      In Indonesia, the freedom of press was used to disseminated Western propaganda, as in 2014/2015, Indonesian media was flooded with nationalistic anti-Chinese messages consistent with American position in the SCS in attempts to brainwash people. Only ‘what are you talking about’ comments from Indonesian netizen have put an end to the propaganda.
      When the West is talking about freedom of press on a certain country, it would only mean they have plan of interdiction underway. One should wonder, why China/Hongkong? There are other big freedom of press offenders who are cozy with the American, such as India, Israel and Saudi Arabia.

      Like

      • Steve says:

        True – After the war the Japanese seems to be obsessed with the American Culture and behaviour. Not sure if the Atomic Dust has affected their way of thought. I wouldn’t have thought so, after all they do produce quality cars, homeware and all kinds of accessories.
        Decades ago, young people are easily influenced by sexual promiscuity, pills, cigarettes, alcohol, vanity, pop music, hippies, hallucinogenic drugs, and fashion. This is basically the American culture that spread far and wide across the globe presented in movie screens, cinemas and now illicit drugs. People are easily hoodwinked into these kinds of cultures that promote freedom of speech with free sex as number one criteria rejecting conventional values. The US are opportunist and unscrupulous interventionist just like in Tibet decades ago. If an opportunity arise the US will create schism between people and government and split a sovereign country apart. Western powers especially the US will have an eye on HongKong and Taiwan.

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