China to close 200 small newspapers

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The Independent Online

Chinese authorities will close about 200 small newspapers in the first half of next year in an attempt to strengthen the Communist Party's control over public opinion, a human rights group reported.

Chinese authorities will close about 200 small newspapers in the first half of next year in an attempt to strengthen the Communist Party's control over public opinion, a human rights group reported.

A central government document last month ordered the closure of some of the smaller newspapers that have become popular in recent years with their emphasis on crime, current events and entertainment, the Information Center of Human Rights and Democratic Movement in China reported Sunday.

Although all newspapers in China are ultimately controlled by government agencies and can only report opposition to government policies within officially prescribed limits, some have found ways to become more appealing to readers.

Local papers filled with articles about crime and entertainment have cut into the circulation of the major party-run newspapers, which offer mostly official directives and reports on models of government-led development.

China has 2,160 newspapers by official count. The Hong Kong rights group estimated 200 of them would be closed.

The state-run Xinhua News Agency last month announced a nationwide cutback in the number of newspapers nationwide, but did not say how many would be merged or closed.

The central government's newspapers must make money for themselves in the new year instead of asking for state subsidies, the report said.

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