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China forces online news sites to hire government-approved staff

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The government is extending existing restrictions on newspapers to cover online sites

Chinese Travel For Lunar New Year Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

The Chinese government has announced new rules that place tighter restrictions on online news outlets. Reuters reports that the regulations, announced on Tuesday, require all blogs, websites, apps, and other news platforms to hire editorial staff that have been approved by national or local government authorities. All staff must also receive training and accreditation from the central government. According to The Wall Street Journal, the rules appear to only apply to domestic online news outlets.

The rules, which will go into effect on June 1st, extend longstanding restrictions on traditional media outlets to news sites. Chinese censors have exerted tight control over the media and internet, and President Xi Jinping has sought to consolidate the government’s control in recent years. Several Chinese online news services were shut down last year for publishing independently-reported news, rather than government statements.

The regulations from the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) also place limits on the kinds of content that news sites can publish. The regulations call on news sites to “promote the formation of a positive, healthy, upright and virtuous internet culture, and protect the national and public interest,” as cited by the Journal. The editors-in-chief of online news sites must be Chinese citizens, and any joint ventures with foreign entities will be subject to a security review.

"This is aimed at the companies rather than the individual users," Qiao Mu, professor at Beijing Foreign Studies University, tells the Associated Press. "It's not only to ideologically control information, but also to control the source of the information."