Netease, the Nasdaq-listed operator of one of China’s most recognized web portals, issued an apology today for unspecified violations of content regulations, saying it would shut down its Finance Channel (财经频道) and “carry out a deep and comprehensive rectification.” The company, based in the southern city of Guangzhou, provides services ranging from online news and advertising, to online gaming and e-commerce. Its market capitalization is roughly US$25 billion.
The Netease apology is the latest mea culpa from a Chinese tech firm in the midst of a broad tightening of controls on information in China, and like recent apologies — notably the self-confession, or jiantao (检讨), issued back in April by Zhang Yiming (张一鸣), the founder and CEO of Jinri Toutiao — this one is clearly imbued with a sense of shame and prostration. These apologies are notably distinct, in my view, from acts of so-called “self-discipline” (自律) we tended to see from tech and media sites before the Xi Jinping era.
It is not yet clear what content, or types of content, prompted what was no doubt and aggressive move from internet authorities. We provide a full translation of the notice from Netease below.
Over the recent period, a number of serious problems (严重问题) have occurred in the process of operating the Netease Finance Channel, and Netease has carried out a profound self-criticism (检讨) and reflection (反思), deciding to suspend refreshing of its Finance Channel effective 12PM on September 11 in order to carry out a deep and comprehensive rectification (整改), vigorously purging conduct in violation of laws and regulations.
Netease will bear in mind its social responsibilities, conveying to users and to all corners of society our honest attitude of rectification. At the same time, we invite users and all corners of society to conduct supervision of us and offer their aid. We will take the preservation of the orderly dissemination of internet information as our duty, working with other platforms in our industry to promote the healthy development of the industry, and actively create a clean and upright online space.
September 11, 2018