(Radio Free Asia) - China's powerful Cyberspace Administration has moved to further tighten control over what the country's 731 million internet users can see online, with a ban on private-sector providers of online news.
New rules coming into force on June 1 will bar any non-state-owned enterprise from running online news and editorial services, according to the agency's official website.
Announced on the eve of World Press Freedom Day, the move comes amid "increasing challenges in the country's efforts to regulate online news services," state news agency Xinhua reported.
The rules will transfer full powers to regulate online news to the Cyberspace Administration from China's cabinet, the State Council, it said.
The regulations will apply to "news reports about public affairs such as politics, economy, military and diplomacy, as well as comments and reports on emergencies, and news services include publishing, forwarding and broadcasting news," Xinhua said.
According to the regulations: "Non-publicly owned capital may not enter into Internet news information gathering activities."
Beijing lawyer Li Jinglin said the regulation is "illegal," although the regulations claimed to supersede any earlier laws.
"This is illegal, because it violates China's constitution," Li said. "But who is going to enforce that?"
"There is no independent judiciary in China, so there is no agency that could rule the Cyberspace Administration's rules unconstitutional," he said.
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