China tightens rules ahead of Games

BEIJING — China announced a raft of rules on Sunday that require foreign media to seek approval from state news agency Xinhua to distribute news, pictures and graphics in China, and warned against reports that “endanger national security.”

Xinhua said the aim of the new rules, which take effect immediately, is to “promote the dissemination of news and information in a sound and orderly manner.” Rules are believed to be part of a broader effort to regulate domestic media and publication of foreign news ahead of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

The new rules give Xinhua the power to censor news distributed in China by foreign media and to delete content it says is forbidden. Foreign news, pictures and graphics can be sold in China only through agents approved by Xinhua.

Earlier this year, China proposed a draft law that would impose fines on media outlets if they broke news on emergencies such as natural disasters without authorization.

Without naming any specific agencies, Xinhua said the business licenses of foreign news agencies can be suspended or revoked if they break the rules.

The agencies can be banned if they “spread false information, disrupt China’s economic and social order or undermine China’s social stability”; they should not carry reports that endanger national security, fan ethnic hatred and racial discrimination or promote cults and superstition.

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