Toe official line, media bosses told

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 26 December, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 26 December, 1998, 12:00am

Heads of state media were reminded yesterday to toe the official line as authorities moved for an across-the-board crackdown on dissident voices.

A circular urged media bosses to strengthen coverage of positive achievements under the present leadership and to avoid concentrating on 'negative reports', including the misallocation of social resources.

'The state media are asked to carefully select analysis articles on the economic situation and political structural reforms,' said a senior official of the State Press and Publications Bureau.

'It is not a total ban but selected articles have to be in line with the official tone.' The new guidelines also require state media to act to preserve stability as the country undergoes drastic reform. Groups are also ordered not to formulate their own comments on foreign leaders.

'It is forbidden to use unscreened materials obtained from the Web site,' the official added.

Authorities will also intensify efforts to ban foreign political texts and pornography.

At a national conference on the press on Thursday, publishing houses were warned about the growing number churning out 'reproduced foreign political publications', pornography and other illegal materials.

'At present, the illegal publication problem is still serious,' the People's Daily quoted a report from the conference as saying.

'There has been an increase in the type and number of overseas publications with serious political problems,' it said.

'Reproduction and sale of these works, especially in large and medium-sized cities, have become very apparent.' The official newspaper repeated the Government's line that social stability is crucial in 1999, the 50th anniversary of the founding of communist China and the return of Macau to Beijing's rule.

'If these problems are not resolved, they will seriously affect social order, harm the mental health of the youth, assail development of the publishing industry and lead to large economic and tax losses,' the commentary said.

According to statistics released at the meeting, China has confiscated nearly 30 million illegally published books and periodicals since 1994.

It had also seized 35 million illegal audio-visual products, of which 300,000 were determined to have illegal political content.