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China’s new online content rules add pressure to foreign media

Foreign media companies and joint venture organisations operating in China are facing a major crackdown in their publishing services from March, according to the official announcement from China’s Ministry of Industry & Information Technology.

The regulations, which will take effective from 10 March, cover a wide range of original or adapted online content, including but not limited to text, images, games, animation, audio recordings and video.

Domestic network publishing services units that plan to cooperate on projects with foreign organisations or individuals, joint ventures or foreign businesses must get prior approval from the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television.

Licensed network publishing services units in China must keep all their necessary technological equipment, the corresponding servers and storage equipment in the country, as well as practicing self-censorship on their published content.

It is currently unclear how the ban will be enforced or whether it would be applied to websites hosted on China-based servers or sites aimed at users in China.

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