Two stories this week underscore the Party’s determination to strengthen control over all activities and content on cyberspace by ensuring companies and staff are tied as closely as possible into the process of enforcing “guidance.” This is essentially the progressive application to cyberspace of the notion of “Party spirit” in the media, which Xi Jinping reiterated in his February 2016 speech on news and public opinion.

First, we have the founding of the Party committee of the China Federation of Online Social Organizations (中国网络社会组织联合会), a group created back in May this year, and about which very little has been reported. The federation essentially groups together, under the watchful eye of the Cyberspace Administration of China, organizations that are registered with the Ministry of Civil Affairs but deal in some way or another with cyberspace. Second, we have a public apology by Baozou Comic, which had its social media accounts closed down back in May for content violations, combined with an interesting set of articles on the service’s website attempting to make amends for its political errors. The Baozou Comic case — following on the abject apology from Toutiao in April — is another clear example of how the Party is more readily using public shaming techniques to enforce loyalty and implement its censorship guidelines.

 

This Week in China’s Media

July 14 — July 20

Party Committee Formed for the China Federation of Online Social Organizations to Strengthen Party Control
➢ Four Agencies Coordinate to Launch “Sword Web 2018” Campaign Against Online IP Infringement and Piracy
➢ Baozou Comic Issues Apology, Says It Has Corrected Its Problems and Will Start Over
➢ Douyin Makes First Announcement of Global Monthly Users, Scale Outstrips Weibo

 

[1]  Party Committee Formed for the China Federation of Online Social Organizations

On the afternoon of July 19, the Party committee of the China Federation of Online Social Organizations (中国网络社会组织联合会) was formally founded in Beijing. Attending the ceremony, Gao Xiang (高翔), deputy director of the Cyberspace Administration of China, said the Party needed to “properly grab and practically grab the effective coverage of online social organizations, the federation’s Party committee guiding, supervising and inspecting the 300 member units to raise the Party’s organizational strength, working to implement the Party’s full coverage of organizations.” This was Party code for the need for the Party to exercise full control over all social organizations operating in cyberspace. The China Federation of Online Social Organizations, founded in Beijing in May 2018 in a ceremony attended by the CAC’s top official, Xu Lian (徐麟), now represents 300 of online social organizations, which a June 2017 document from the CAC defines as “social organizations registered with the Ministry of Civil Affairs that carry out work on the cyberspace domain.”

Examples of participants in the China Federation of Online Social Organizations include the China Electronics Chamber of Commerce (CECC)  the Cybersecurity Association of China (中国网络空间安全协会), and the China Youth New Media Association (中国青少年新媒体协会) associated with the Chinese Communist Youth League. But members apparently also include executives from major tech firms and online media, such as Alibaba (CEO Jack Ma is listed as a vice-president) and People’s Daily Online (CEO Ye Zhenzhen is listed as a vice-president).

At the founding back in May, state media identified the group as “our country’s first national, federated and hub-type social organization that voluntarily connects online social organizations, formed by 10 national online social organizations with the Cyberspace Administration of China as a sponsoring institution.” The stated mission of the federation is to “promote the development of online social organizations . . . under the leadership of the Party and the government.”

Key Chinese Reports:

Online Communication Magazine WeChat public account (网络传播杂志): 重磅!中国网络社会组织联合会党委成立大会在京举行

Cyberspace Administration of China Website (中国网信网): 中国网络社会组织联合会在京成立

[2] Four Agencies Coordinate to Launch “Sword Web 2018” Campaign Against Online IP Infringement and Piracy

Four government agencies announced on July 16 that they would coordinate in a campaign to strike hard against intellectual property right violations and piracy on the internet. The special action, they said, had begun in early July and would extend for four months. The agencies include the Cyberspace Administration of China, the National Copyright Administration, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and the Ministry of Public Security.

According to the notice, the campaign will focus on three particular areas of violation according to China’s Copyright Law: 1. reposting of copyrighted content, focusing on so-called “WeMedia,” or zimeiti (自媒体) on WeChat public accounts and other platforms that illegally copy and share material; 2. sharing of short videos in violation of copyright, focusing on such platforms as Douyin, Kuaishou, Watermelon Video and Bilibili; 3.violations in priority areas such as animation, video streaming and audiobooks.

Key Chinese Reports:

China Intellectual Property News (知识产权报): “剑网2018”专项行动将重点整治短视频等领域侵权行为
Beijing News Online (新京报网): “剑网2018”专项行动将重点整治短视频等领域侵权行为

[3] Baozou Comic Issues Apology, Says It Has Corrected Its Problems and Will Start Over

Baozou Comic, the popular comic sharing site that had its accounts on Weibo and WeChat shut down indefinitely by authorities back in May, has now posted an apology dated July 11 on its website, saying its “fundamental error was that our education in socialist core values was insufficient.” In an effort to rectify its problems, underscore its missteps and begin operating afresh, Baozou has posted several sections on its website as part of a “‘New Start’ Special Series.” These include a section called “Journey With The Homeland’s Martyrs, Making Deep Apologies” (英烈故土行,深刻致歉), which describes visits by the Baozou CEO and staff to official memorials to martyrs and heroes across the country.

Key Chinese Reports:

IT Home (IT之家): 暴走漫画活了,发致歉信称改正错误重新出发

Online Communication Magazine WeChat public account (网络传播杂志): “暴走漫画”发致歉信!自媒体应有怎样的“网络伦理操守”?

[4] Douyin Makes First Announcement of Global Monthly Users, Scale Outstrips Weibo

On July 16, the short video app Douyin announced that its global active monthly users have reached 500 million. This is the first time the app announced global figures. The app announced last month that its domestic active monthly users had reached 300 million. Douyin said 40% of its users were now in the 24-30 age group, surpassing previously dominant 18-24 age group.

Key Chinese Reports:

36KR.com (36氪): 最前线 | ​抖音全球月活用户突破5亿,这个消息比预想的早了半年
Media Observer (传媒大观察): 3分钟速览每日传媒大事记(7月18日)