Chinese government officials have been told to ‘orientate online opinion’ in the build up to and during this year’s Olympic Games in Beijing, press freedom campaign group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has said.
According to RSF a confidential memo seen by the group ‘confirms that the authorities have an active policy towards online information content’.
In the memo, guidelines on how government officials should behave towards foreign media before and during the games are set out.
The instructions, which are intended for provincial officials in the country, asks recipients to “reinforce the work of commenting on the Internet and increase the level of opinion orientation on the Internet.”
“There is a need to reinforce management of news websites and to guarantee appropriate opinion behaviour as regards online news and information,” the memo states.
In a press statement, RSF said the plan contained some positive features, such as instructions on training officials and holding news conferences for foreign journalists, but contained ‘serious obstructions to the free flow of news and information’.
“While introducing more flexible rules for foreign journalists in January 2007, the Chinese authorities also established a nationwide policy for supervising and influencing the international media,” said RSF.
“Parts of this classified memo show there is a real concern to provide better information to foreign journalists, but it also reveals that the authorities never abandoned their intention to censor the news.”
Full details of the memo can be viewed on the RSF Asia website.