Beijing censors tighten restrictions on dissenting bloggers

Online criticism of Yue Yue and train crash outrages prompt move to 'regulate' social media

The Chinese government has stepped up its efforts to crush online dissent by bringing in tougher controls of social media and instant messaging tools in the clearest sign yet that services such as Weibo, which are similar to the banned Twitter, are angering authorities.

The crackdown took place amid national soul-searching after the death last week of a toddler, Yue Yue, who was struck by a truck and lay bleeding in the road witnessed by passers-by who failed to go to her assistance. Weibo helped to turn the incident into a national debate, just as a high-speed train crash in July turned into a scandal after microbloggers criticised the government's response. A communiqué issued by the Communist Party leadership was published yesterday in the party's official mouthpiece, the People's Daily. "Strengthen guidance and administration of social internet services and instant communications tools and regulate the orderly dissemination of information," it read.

New measures also rein in freewheeling TV companies and come after a meeting this month of the Communist Party's Central Committee that set the broader agenda for China's ruling elite and focused heavily on culture.

The move is part of what was increasingly being seen as a "new cultural revolution", a broader effort to push Communist Party issues ahead of Western media and Hollywood movies, all of which are seen as playing a role in encouraging dissent. Beijing has been increasingly nervous about the thriving microblogs in Chinese – and the ease with which they sidestep censorship and government controls. Weibo postings allow 140 Chinese characters, which effectively means 140 words, whereas Twitter is restricted to 140 English letters, a much shorter option. While Facebook and Twitter are banned in China, most people find Weibo more than adequate to get their views across, often without revealing their identities. There were 195 million microblog users registered in China at the end of June.

Exactly how China will rein in the sites or try and promote content acceptable to the party was not clear, but the communiqué warned that authorities would "apply the law to sternly punish the dissemination of harmful information." It did not give details of what form firmer regulation may take.

"Putting words like that in a document like that shows that they're taking this issue very seriously," said Li Yonggang, an expert on internet policy at Nanjing University in east China. "This is a political signal, but it will probably be some time before this results in any new measures or regulations emerge."

At the same time, the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) has announced a crackdown on "vulgar" or "overly entertaining" TV. The crackdown reserves particular ire for programs dealing with marital troubles and matchmaking shows. Talent contests, game shows and reality programming were also under fire. Such shows will be banned from the start of next year on China's 34 satellite TV stations and replaced by news and cultural programming.

"Satellite channels are mainly for the broadcast of news propaganda and should expand the proportion of news, economic, cultural, science and education, children's, and documentary programming," SARFT said.

Satellite channels can show no more than nine of the restricted programs each night between the prime time hours of 7.30pm and 10pm, with individual channels limited to two programs each not exceeding 90 minutes in total. They must also show at least two hours of news between 6.00am and 11.30pm. Microblogging sites have already begun to carry comments on the issue. Tianjunshangxiao wrote: "How can a government say it represents you if it wants to control how many times a day you watch entertainment on TV."

News
peopleHowards' Way actress, and former mistress of Jeffrey Archer, was 60
Sport
Romelu Lukaku puts pen to paper
sport
News
Robyn Lawley
people
Arts and Entertainment
Unhappy days: Resistance spy turned Nobel prize winner Samuel Beckett
books
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
people
Life and Style
Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson voice the show’s heroes
gamingOnce stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover
News
i100
Life and Style
Phones will be able to monitor your health, from blood pressure to heart rate, and even book a doctor’s appointment for you
techCould our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?
News
people
Extras
indybest
Travel
Ryan taming: the Celtic Tiger carrier has been trying to improve its image
travelRyanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?
Sport
Usain Bolt confirms he will run in both the heats and the finals of the men's relay at the Commonwealth Games
commonwealth games
Life and Style
Slim pickings: Spanx premium denim collection
fashionBillionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers 'thigh-trimming construction'
News
Sabina Altynbekova has said she wants to be famous for playing volleyball, not her looks
people
News
i100
Life and Style
tech'World's first man-made leaves' could use photosynthesis to help astronauts breathe
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SAP Project Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

SAP Project Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

Senior Investment Accounting Change Manager

£600 - £700 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Investment Accounting Change...

Microsoft Dynamics AX Functional Consultant

£65000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: A rare opportun...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star