China has removed Caixin Media, one of the country’s most independent business news sites, from a list of news outlets whose content can be republished by other internet news providers.
The move is in line with the ruling Communist Party’s efforts to tighten control over the flow of information. Caixin is privately funded, unlike most state-run media. The Cyberspace Administration of China dropped it from a list of more than 1,300 news outlets and government agencies whose content can be republished.
Internet platforms are barred from publishing content from non-approved sources. Caixin was on the previous list, published in 2016. Another independent Chinese newspaper, The Economic Observer, was also dropped from this year’s list.
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The Cyberspace Administration said in a notice that outlets omitted from the list published this week “no longer meet requirements, have poor daily performance and lack influence”. The aim was to maintain the “seriousness and credibility” of the list, it said.
Caixin’s exclusion means readers in China will have to visit its website or app directly to read its news stories, instead of reading them on popular news aggregator websites. The company did not comment when contacted by phone and email.
Caixin is known for being bolder than most outlets, pushing limits imposed to ensure that news agencies and social media platforms censor politically sensitive or inappropriate topics. The outlet is known for its investigative reporting on corruption and other issues.
The company, founded by prominent editor Hu Shuli, has a think tank, a data company, investable indices, and research firms. The Economic Observer also has been critical of the government at times. In 2011, it ignored a government censorship directive and published an in-depth feature about a high-speed train collision that killed dozens.
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The Chinese news landscape is tightly controlled by the government, which blocks online access to many Western news organisations such as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and the BBC. State media, such as the China Daily, People’s Daily and Global Times, tend to publish stories in line with government messaging.
It’s not the first time Caixin has run afoul of authorities. In 2016, China’s cyber watchdog suspended Caixin’s credentials for two months, prohibiting online sites from syndicating its content and accusing Caixin of putting out “problematic” news reports. That followed Caixin’s coverage of opposition by a group of lawyers to new regulations set out by China’s Ministry of Justice.