THE Chinese Communist Party is mapping out ways to curb the growth of publications, particularly those run by non-government companies and organisations. The tough steps were formalised in a series of national meetings on propaganda and the media held by the party's propaganda department before the Lunar New Year. The ministerial-level Press and Publications Administration has slapped a ban on government units selling shuhao, or official publication numbers, to private publishers. The administration is expected to announce soon that printing and circulation units can only handle books and magazines that have received authorisation papers. Provincial and municipal branches of the administration may also have to surrender their power to approve new publications to central authorities. Propaganda chief Ding Guan'gen earlier said that a moratorium would be put on the increase of newspapers and periodicals. 'We can only issue death certificates, not birth certificates,' Mr Ding said. Mr Ding, who is also Politburo member in charge of ideology, has endorsed recent suggestions by hardline commissars that media units be run along 'para-military lines'. This means editors and other media professionals have to report to communist party committees whose leaders have passed muster as 'trustworthy Marxists'. Analysts in Beijing's publishing circles pointed out the authorities were alarmed by the proliferation of books, magazines, as well as municipal and county level newspapers that were bankrolled by private entrepreneurs. They said these non-official publishers had, apart from material that sold sex and violence, come up with books and periodicals deemed to be 'bourgeois liberal'. However, the analysts said the new measures might prove ineffective as entrepreneurs had already established nation-wide 'underground networks' for printing and circulation.