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Beijing wants its internet to become 'civilized' by always reflecting Marxist values

Content won't be welcome if it doesn't laud the Party, strays into anything a little tawdry, or diverts from the official line

China wants a "civilized" internet that displays and promotes Chinese socialist values and will strengthen oversight to make it happen with tools including a rumor-debunking mechanism, as outlined in a missive from China's Communist Party and the State Council.

The actual requirements and recommendations – grandly titled "Opinions on Strengthening the Construction of Network Civilization" – appear not to have been made public. But a report about the opinions by state-run organ Xinhua has been reproduced, verbatim, on a number of Chinese government web sites.

Wherever the post appears it states: "The country aims to consolidate the guiding status of Marxism in the ideological cyberspace sphere, foster a common ideology among the whole Party and the Chinese people, and interiorize core socialist values."

To achieve a correct cyberspace culture, the recommendations dictate the internet's use as a tool to disseminate information about "the great achievements of [China's Communist] party in each historical period of revolution, construction, and reform." The document also calls for a "clear-cut stand against historical nihilism."

The reports all mention construction of a nationwide online rumor-burying mechanism based on the China Internet Joint Rumor Refusal Platform, a fact-checking service that offers party-approved counterfactuals.

Other provisions of the recommendations include grading and classifying of professionally run social media accounts, regulating use of internet slang, and encouraging netizens to point out perceived "uncivilized" cyber activity through improved reporting tools and training to help them spot material worthy of being brought to the attention of Chinese authorities.

Beyond a request for government bodies to further control content while reinforcing government-selected aspects of Chinese culture lies an element of corporate duty, with an expectation that businesses will self-govern their content. Live-streaming – the infomercials that are currently Chinese e-tailers' hot new marketing tactic – were mentioned as deserving of attention.

Companies are asked to also take the reins on user agreements and "national security awareness," and the document calls for a strengthening of the country's Personal Information Protection Law and Data Security Law.

Issuance of these opinions follows the June 2021 crackdown on digital fan clubs, a recent kid-friendly cleanse of the internet and even a recent edict that effeminate men – male pop singers and/or floppy-fringed actors in designer clothes – should not appear in Chinese media.

Even Alpacas have earned Beijing's ire because they allow Chinese netizens to make subversive puns. On the upside, Beijing has also banned pop-up ads. ®

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