China orders crackdown on domestic online financial information providers to keep ‘economic order’
- Cyberspace Administration of China issues new rules from February 1 to prohibit providers from distorting macro policies and fabricating news
- Move comes as mainland tightens grip on the internet amid a slowing economy, but foreign wire services are not included
China’s cyber watchdog has issued new regulations for domestic financial information providers, in an apparent crackdown on online content deemed detrimental to the country’s financial stability as the economy slows.
Financial information providers are now not allowed to distort Chinese fiscal and monetary policies, disturb economic order or to harm the nation’s interests, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) said on Wednesday.
Service providers being targeted include those involved in financial analysis, financial trading and financial decision-making, but do not include foreign wire services, according to the CAC.
The CAC said violators of the regulations, due to take effect on February 1, will be “condemned publicly” and “ordered to rectify” their errors, with criminal cases brought if violations constitute a crime.
The move came as slowing growth for the world’s second-biggest economy has spurred calls from academics and entrepreneurs for more stimulus policies.
Domestic providers of financial information are expanding rapidly, and some institutions that are not strict in supervising content are speculating on market risks and publishing sensitive market information and distorting financial regulatory polices, the CAC said in a Q&A issued after publication of the regulations.
“[They] have brought an impact on the economic and financial stability, and should be addressed immediately,” said CAC.
Financial information providers are also not allowed to fabricate news or events that could move stock, fund, futures and foreign exchange markets.
In recent years, China has tightened oversight of online content, concerned about the spread of politically “harmful” information, pornography, fake news and efforts to “defame the nation’s image”.
Online criticism of the government’s economic and trade policies is also frowned upon, as China’s economy further loses momentum despite a raft of supportive measures rolled out this year.
While Chinese policymakers admit pressure on the economy is increasing, state media has focused on the vastness of China’s consumer market, progress in reforms and market access, and the idea that no reward will come without hard work.
Tianfeng Securities, a mainland securities firm, said in a research note published in November that more than two million job adverts on a prominent Chinese job website had disappeared from its website this year due to the economic slump.