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China Tightens Censorship of Foreign Broadcasters

China said Wednesday that it will refuse to allow any new foreign-owned television satellite channels into the country and that it would tighten controls on the 31 international broadcasters already operating in China.

China Tightens Censorship of Foreign Broadcasters

In an attempt to “safeguard national culture,” China said Wednesday that it will refuse to allow any new foreign-owned television satellite channels into the country and that it would tighten controls on the 31 international broadcasters already operating in China.

In a statement announced by the state news agency Xinhua, China’s Culture Ministry said the country "will not again allow a foreign satellite TV station to have landing rights in the country.”

The move will "strengthen management of imported cultural products, improve intellectual property protections and safeguard national cultural safety," the ministry added.

The government will also ban new licenses for companies to import newspapers and magazines, electronic publications, audiovisual products and children's cartoons, the ministry added. It said new limits would be imposed on the number of foreign copyrighted products that Chinese companies are allowed to publish.

According to the Associated Press, the announcement adds to a mounting campaign over the past two years to tighten control over popular culture and keep out material that communist leaders worry is spreading politically and socially dangerous influences.

Last year, the government prohibited the use of English words on television and foreign programs that promote "western ideology and politics." Also, just last month, the government banned Chinese television and radio stations from forming partnerships with foreign companies or leasing channels to foreign companies, according to a report by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

“Communist leaders are concerned about material that is spreading ‘politically and socially dangerous’ influences,” CBC reported. “Regulators frequently cite foreign culture as a source of unwholesome influences.”

Last year, Forum 18 – a Norway-based agency that monitors religious freedom in Communist and former Soviet states – released a report following a two-month investigation conducted on China's censorship of religious materials on the world wide web.

The agency claimed that while printed publications have long been censored in China, the authorities have also tried to keep up with technological developments.

As part of their investigation, Forum 18 tested several hundred religious sites, including sites in a variety of languages (Chinese, Korean, Russian and Western languages) maintained by different faiths (including Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, and Jewish); overseas Chinese-language religious communities in South East Asia, Australasia and North America; religious rights groups; human rights groups; religious news agencies and magazines; religious educational institutions; religious political movements; and foreign governments.

The tests were carried out from mid-May to mid-July and looked at access in a variety of locations in China. At the conclusion of its investigation, Forum 18 reported that all the sites found by the agency to be inaccessible in China were accessible in Europe and North America.

According to Forum 18, the findings corresponded with “the general perception of a Chinese state that remains deeply concerned about maintaining internal stability and by extension, the continuation of Communist rule.”

More recently, CBC reported that Beijing ordered all “bloggers” to register with the Chinese government last month and had enlisted internet service providers' help in blocking any content that refers to democracy or political change.

However, as CBC stated, it has been increasingly difficult to control what Chinese people read because of the growth of “blogging” and of internet sites that spread information not generally available in China.

And despite government efforts to control the internet, this medium is proving fertile soil for dissidents and many religious groups, according to Operation World – the most comprehensive, up-to-date, and wide-ranging compilation of Mission-related information on the world’s nations.

Christian broadcasting has also been and still is one of the most potent pre-evangelism and Christian teaching media for China today, it added.

According to AP, the recent measures are likely to be a major disappointment for broadcasters that hope for access to China, a country with 400 million television sets.

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