Chinese president calls for home-grown new-media industry

New-media groups should be strong, influential and credible, says Xi

The Chinese government keeps a tight grip on traditional media such as newspapers and television, but online platforms are under intense censorship due to fears that the web poses a threat to the Communist Party’s dominance. Photograph: Reuters/Jason Lee

The Chinese government keeps a tight grip on traditional media such as newspapers and television, but online platforms are under intense censorship due to fears that the web poses a threat to the Communist Party’s dominance. Photograph: Reuters/Jason Lee

Wed, Aug 20, 2014, 01:00

President Xi Jinping has called for a home-grown new-media industry that is “strong, influential and credible” as part of broader reforms in China, where nearly 400 million monthly active users use the instant messaging platform WeChat.

Mr Xi made his remarks during a closed-door meeting of top Communist Party leaders at the seaside resort of Beidaihe in Hebei province. This annual meeting lays the groundwork for the coming months, which this year include the 110th birthday anniversary of the late leader Deng Xiaoping and the party’s fourth plenary session in October.

“Several new-media groups that have strength, communication capacity, credibility and are influential should be established,” Mr Xi was quoted as saying by the official Xinhua news agency.

Authorities had to “properly integrate and manage traditional and new media, ensuring the integration is heading in the right direction”.

Tight grip

The government keeps a tight grip on traditional media such as newspapers and television, but online platforms are under intense censorship due to fears that the web poses a threat to the party’s dominance.

Earlier this month, the State Internet Information Office said only news agencies and news websites were authorised to publish original news content on instant messaging platforms.

Mr Xi said integration should be supported by technology and follow the rules of news communication and laws governing the development of new media. This means any developments of the new-media sector will have to come with Communist Party approval.

In July, the president called for stricter management of the internet during a speech to the Brazilian parliament.

While traditional media are more malleable, new media are difficult to control, despite the use of online censorship and the system of blocking sensitive information known as the Great Firewall of China.

Chinese microblogs such as Sina Weibo have been influential in guiding public opinion, driving the debate about issues such as official graft, pollution and political malfeasance.