January 28 – Yunnan Province passed new rules (关于省政府部门及州市行政负责人问责办法), to take effect on March 1 this year, specifying that news reports may be presented as support for the launching of investigations against government officials suspected of abuse of power. One Yunnan official, Yang Hongbo (杨洪波) said the rules “patched up existing inadequacies in monitoring by the law and the discipline inspection apparatus.” In a January 29 editorial, Guangzhou’s Yangcheng Evening News said the Yunnan rules, if smoothly implemented, “would not only provide an additional institutional guarantee, but would create a climate in which media dare to carry out monitoring.”
January 28 – Wu Zhen (武真), a reporter for China Business was murdered in Beijing. City police issued a news release saying their investigation had shown that Wu’s murder was motivated by robbery and they were searching for the perpetrator. Some Chinese media had earlier speculated that Wu’s murder was retaliation for negative news stories.
January 31 – New license requirements took effect for the provision of online video services in China. The rules, announced in December 2007 by the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television and the Ministry of Information, set much stiffer restrictions on the online video business, including a new requirement that service providers be either state-owned (国有独资) or state-controlled (国有控股) firms. The effect on private Internet firms providing online video services in China, including popular portals like Sina.com, was not yet known, but many analysts speculated that they would be exempted from the new ownership requirements. CMP reads the new online video rules as an attempt by state leaders to keep tighter control over video content while encouraging the rapid commercialization of online services. The last government rules to deal with online audio and video services came back on July 6, 2004, when SARFT specified such services would not be open to “wholly foreign owned enterprises, Sino-foreign joint equity or Sino-foreign cooperative ventures.” Those rules, however, did not require that service providers be state-owned or state-controlled.
[Posted by Joseph Cheng, February 4, 2008]