September 24, 2006
Written by C.N.
In recent years, there is increase hope that as China continues to modernize and embrace capitalism (along with hosting the Olympics in two years) that one potential trickle-down effect is that its infamously iron-fisted control over media and other forms of expression and freedom will gradually lessen. However, as Time Magazine reports, the exact opposite seems to be happening:
The New China News Agency, known as Xinhua, released details last week of new regulations tightening control over distribution of information by foreign wire services. By forcing news agencies such as Reuters, Bloomberg and the Associated Press to distribute content through—and share revenue with—Xinhua, China was effectively rigging the market to favor its domestic news operation. . . .
Xinhua’s power grab was also widely condemned overseas as an attempt to control the foreign media: among other restrictions, the rules prohibit dissemination of news that undermines “the fine cultural traditions of the Chinese nation.” . . . In the past few months, Beijing has issued several regulations and is drafting more that appear to be aimed at limiting the ability of overseas firms to do business in China.
Last week, China’s stock-market regulator temporarily banned investment by foreign brokerages in domestic securities firms . . . And in late August, the Ministry of Commerce issued new rules on mergers and acquisitions, including a number of vague provisions that appear to give the ministry wide powers to review and halt mergers.
Apparently China can’t make up its mind on what type of country that it wants to be — a strict communist (more like totalitarian) regime in which virtually aspects of life and economic activity are tightly controlled, or a modernized and capitalist society that welcomes foreign investment and insures press freedoms. China seems to be swinging back and forth between these two scenarios, like a jury member who bounces back and forth and can’t make up his mind during deliberations.
What’s the result of this indecision? Nobody is pleased and people on both sides lose confidence and trust in the Chinese government. This is the case when it comes to foreigners trying to do business in China and with Chinese citizens themselves who are growing tired of their government’s ineffectiveness.
Is China at a crossroads where they need to chart one path and stay on it, for better or for worse? If they’re not at this juncture now, if this types of events continue to happen, China will be at that point very soon.
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Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "China Can’t Make Up Its Mind" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <http://www.asian-nation.org/headlines/2006/09/china-cant-make-up-its-mind/> ().
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