Private companies will be prohibited from publishing or broadcasting news about politics, culture, sport, and pretty much everything else.
by Hu Zimo
Every year, China publishes a “Negative Market Access List,” jointly issued by the National Development and Reform Commission and the Ministry of Commerce, and approved by the Central Committee of the CCP. The list explains what activities are forbidden to non-state actors, including foreign investors and “non-public capital,” meaning private companies.
As many other Chinese regulations, first a draft is published for comments, and then the norms are enacted, normally with few changes if any with respect to the draft. The draft “Negative Market Access List” for 2021 has been published on October 8.
Foreign media have emphasized the prohibition of investing in cryptocurrency mining, which was expected, and mentioned the National Development and Reform Commission’s statement that the 2021 list is less restrictive than its 2020 version, as the number of activities restricted or prohibited to non-state actors has been reduced from 123 to 117.
This, however, is propaganda. Much more important than the number of restricted activities is the crackdown on any non-state presence in the field of information.
Number 6 of the Lists states that,
“–Non-public capital may not engage in news gathering, editing and broadcasting business.
–Non-public capital shall not invest in the establishment and operation of news agencies, including but not limited to news agencies, newspaper publishing, radio and television broadcasters, radio and television stations, and Internet news and information collection and publishing services, etc.
–Non-public capital may not operate news organizations, such as pages, frequencies, channels, columns, or public accounts.
–Non-public capital shall not engage in live broadcast of political, economic, military, diplomatic, social, cultural, scientific and technological, health, education, sports and other activities related to political direction, or public opinion and value orientation.
–Non-public capital may not introduce news issued by foreign subjects.
–Non-public capital is not allowed to hold forums and summits and give awards in the field of news and public opinion.”
In practice, this means that all information, in all forms and fields, should be not only controlled (which would not be new) but directly produced exclusively by public actors, i.e., by the CCP.