China’s State Council ordered foreign economic news agencies Tuesday to submit to control by the Communist Party’s New China news agency and threatened to punish them if they release information within the country that “slanders or jeopardizes the national interest of China.”
The State Council directed foreign information vendors to register with the New China news agency within three months and it barred Chinese companies and government departments from subscribing directly to economic information from foreign agencies. It also gave the official state news agency the power to set subscription rates for private foreign companies.
The decree was seen by many business people here as further impeding the free flow of information in China and thus dealing a blow to China’s efforts to turn cities such as Shanghai into major financial centers.
Business executives interpreted the new policy as an effort by some elements of the government to exercise greater control over the explosion of electronic information services. They also saw it as an attempt by the heavily subsidized New China news agency to reassert its former monopoly power and extract a share of profits from the growing electronic economic news business.