Chinese censorship back in the WTO spotlight

As the financial crisis is progressing, relations between China and the United States are becoming increasingly strained. As the US struggles to get its economy back on the rails, voices arguing that Chinese monetary and economic policies engender unfair consequences for US enterprises are growing in strength. On 20 October, the USTR filed a WTO case against China concerning anti-dumping measures on broiler products, as well as a GATS Article III:4 request for information concerning China’s Internet censorship policies.

 

This is not the first time that the US addresses Chinese censorship in the WTO. Most notably, it won the DS363 China – Audiovisual case, in which it was found that a number of Chinese media control measures violated WTO rules. However, this request for information is different. Rather than attacking substantive aspects of Chinese censorship policy, it asks China to provide more clarity about censorship procedure. More specifically, as the Great Firewall allegedly sometimes blocks the websites of US services suppliers, the US requests information about the criteria for blockage, the relevant ministries and decisionmakers, potential routes for appeal or redress, and the way domestic and foreign services suppliers are treated.

 

This action may have significant consequences. China’s censorship system is vague, opaque and complex, party because of domestic overlapping administrations, but also in order to ensure that websites aren’t tempted to explore the boundaries of what is permissible and to maximize discretion to intervene. However, if China does not satisfactorily answer the US questions, it may find itself confronted with a new WTO case. It can reasonably be expected that China will invoke national security as a justification for its censorship regime, which means that it may be necessary to come up with a WTO definition for this term.

 

In any case, this is a very clever move by the United States. By concentrating on procedural aspects, it avoids opening up the Pandora’s box that are substantive censorship rules. But more importantly, by concentrating on the commitments that China voluntarily made when joining on the WTO, China may be forced to show its hand on committing to the rules-based international trading system.

 

 

Opinion Concerning Further Strengthening Comprehensive Satellite Television Channel Programme Management

SARFT No. (2011)83

 

In recent years, comprehensive satellite television channels have incessantly innovated programme content, vigorously expanded programme forms, had have obtained heartening progress in aspects such as propagating the reform and development achievements of all localities, expanding broadcast coverage, strengthening audience viewing choice, etc. But in recent times, a part of comprehensive satellite television channels have displayed tendencies of excessive entertainmentization and vulgarization, damaging the image and credibility of radio and television media, the opinion of audiences is relatively large, and they react strongly. In order to further stimulate the healthy flourishing and development of radio and television, promote programme innovation and optimization, encourage high-level programme forms, raise the production level of radio and television programmes, even more effectively satisfy the broad popular masses, diverse, multi-level and high-level spiritual cultural requirements, hereby, the following opinion on further strengthening comprehensive satellite television channel programme management is put forward: Continue reading

Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party Decision Concerning Deepening Cultural Structural Reform

The 6th Plenum of the 17th Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party has completely analyzed the situation and tasks, and is of the opinion that summarizing the rich practice and precious experience of our country’s cultural reform and development, researching the deployment of deepening cultural structural reform, promoting the grand development and grand flourishing of Socialist culture, further arousing a new high tide of Socialist cultural construction, has a major and profound significance for seizing complete construction of the new victory of constructing a moderately well-off society, initiating a new dimension for Socialist undertakings with Chinese characteristics and realizing the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. The Plenum has made the following Decision.

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Some Regulations Concerning Strictly Preventing False News Reporting

Notice Concerning Printing and Issuance of the “Some Regulations Concerning Strictly Preventing False News Reports”

XCZF No. (2011)14

All provincial, autonomous region and municipal press and publication bureaus, the Xinjiang production-construction corps press and publications bureau, the Liberation Army’s General Political Department Propaganda Department Press and Publications Bureau, the all ministries and commissions of Central and State organs, all democratic parties, all people’s organization newspaper and periodical controlling departments, and the main Central news work units: Continue reading

Notice Concerning Further Strengthening Radio and Television Advertising Broadcast Management

On 11 October 2011, SARFT issued the “Notice Concerning Further Strengthening Radio and Television Advertising Broadcast Management” to all provincial, autonomous region and municipal radio, film and television bureaus, the Xinjiang Production-Construction Corps Radio and Television Bureau, the three central stations, China Educational Television, and the Film Channel Programme Centre, the Notice says that after more than a year since the “Radio and Television Advertising Broadcast Management Rules” (SARFT Decree No. 61), the implementation situation generally is desirable, all walks of society universally approve it. But recently, a number of problems violating regulations have reappeared, mainly manifesting as: first, inserting advertising in film or television drama titles or credits; second, inserting advertising in excessive duration; third, a number of transmission and relay organs insert moving caption advertising when transmitting programmes; fourth, a number of advertising overstates its propaganda, fifth, a number of current-affairs and news-type programmes have commercial headings, etc. In order to determinedly correct these problems and realistically standardize radio and television order, hereby, the following is notified to further strengthen radio and television advertising broadcast and management work: Continue reading