Beijing blocks foreign newspapers

Mure Dickie – The Financial Times

Mure Dickie in Beijing
Copyright The Financial Times
Published: November 16 2005 22:03
Beijing has halted plans to allow foreign newspapers to print in China
because of concerns raised by recent ìcolour revolutionsî against
authoritarian governments in Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan, according to a
senior media regulator. Shi Zongyuan, head of the General
Administration of Press and Publication, said the role of the international media
in such popular revolts had prompted the suspension of what had been a
cautious, but significant easing of Chinaís curbs on foreign news
ìThe ëcolour revolutionsí were a reminder not to let saboteurs into the
house and that the door must be closed, so we have closed it
temporarily,î Mr Shi said in an interview with the FT. Mr Shiís remarks
underline the increasing concern with which Chinese leaders have viewed the
toppling of the government of Georgia in 2003, of Ukraine in 2004 and of
Kyrgyzstan earlier this year. Moscow has alleged that the hand of
Americaís CIA lay behind some of these revolts.
Fears that Chinaís own political order could also be undermined have
fuelled a broad effort by Beijing propaganda officials to tighten
controls on cultural and media imports. Mr Shiís linkage of foreign newspaper
printing in China to national security issues is likely to disappoint
international newspaper publishers , eager to build their presence in
what is potentially a huge media market.
Foreign newspapers are currently flown into mainland China from print
sites in Hong Kong and elsewhere, and distribution is limited to places
where foreigners are numerous, such as hotels and airports, and to
approved subscribers. The press administration had planned to allow local
publications to print foreign newspapers including the FT on a contract
basis, while retaining restrictions on distribution.
Mr Shi said that any return to the liberalisation policy depended on
the conduct of foreign media.

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