China's cabinet has warned government departments to clean up their social media image amid a drive to bolster the government's online presence to help reach tech-savvy young people who get their information from smartphones.
The State Council issued the guidelines late on Thursday saying that authorities' social media presence needed more regulation and vowed to clean up dormant "zombie" accounts and "shocking" comment from official channels.
"This has a negative impact on the image and the public trust in the government," the cabinet said on its website.
Government bodies have been pushing into social media as a way to reach younger people, who get most information from platforms like Tencent's messaging app WeChat, microblog platform Weibo or newer services such as news aggregator Toutiao.
The government is also trying to get a tighter grip on the dissemination of information to the public more broadly, and has been tightening regulations on financial news and reining in online bloggers and livestream artists.
China jails former vice minister of State Security for life
A Chinese court on Thursday sentenced Ma Jian, the former vice minister of state security, to life in prison.Ma was convicted of crimes including bribe-taking and insider trading, the Dalian Intermediate People's Court said in a statement on its website.Ma was put under investigation for corruption in 2015 and expelled from the Communist Party the following year.
Alleged leader of Chinese consulate attack in Pakistan reported killed
One of the alleged masterminds of an attack by a Pakistani separatist group on the Chinese consulate in Karachi last month has been killed along with five associates, the insurgent group said on Wednesday.The Baloch Liberation Army (BLA), which opposes projects linked to China's Belt and Road infrastructure initiative in resource-rich Baluchistan, issued a statement on Tuesday confirming the death of Aslam Baloch, one of its leaders."The important BLA commander Aslam Baloch, along with five associates in the organisation were martyred in an enemy attack on Monday," Jiand Baloch, a spokesman for the separatist group said in a statement that gave no further details.Pakistan's Samaa Television reported that Aslam was killed along with a number of his commanders in a suicide attack in Aino Maina in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, across the border from Baluchistan.There was no claim of responsibility for the killings and a spokesman for the Pakistani foreign ministry did not respond to requests for comment.Last month, three attackers stormed the Chinese consulate in Karachi, killing four people. Security forces killed the three attackers who were carrying explosives.Pakistan has long accused its old rival India of supporting insurgents in Baluchistan. China has funded development of a deepwater port at Gwadar in south Baluchistan, and is also investing in other projects as part of the giant China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).Baluchistan, on the borders of Afghanistan and Iran, has rich mineral and natural gas reserves but is Pakistan's poorest province.Separatists have for decades campaigned against what they see as the unfair exploitation of resources, in particular natural gas and minerals.
The State Council said government accounts "cannot express any personal emotions or opinions, and normally should only repost information from government websites or from sources recognized by government".
Authorities were also forbidden from fabricating social media data or paying for fake followers, it said.
In July, a verified Weibo account of the Yueyang municipal government in Hunan province called a netizen an "environment protection bitch" in a repost responding to concern about a waste incineration plant. It later issued an apology.
Certain official agencies have large followings online, including the Communist Party's Youth League, which has 7.7 million followers on Weibo.
Over the last couple of years government agencies have been expanding beyond Weibo, with forays onto video sites like Bilibili and Bytedance's Douyin, also known as TikTok.
China's draft foreign investment law bans forced tech transfer, emphasises reciprocity
China has proposed a ban on forced technology transfer and illegal government "interference" in foreign business operations, practices that have come under the spotlight in a trade dispute with the United States.A draft foreign investment law, the full text of which was published by the top legislature on Wednesday, comes as China tries to resolve its protracted standoff with the United States, which accuses it of unfair trade practices including intellectual property (IP) theft and forced IP transfer.While China has frequently denied such accusations, it has pledged to improve market access for foreign investors and better protect their rights in the face of growing complaints and slower foreign investment.The final draft law, with 39 articles, was far shorter than a version released in 2015, yet took a notably stronger line on IP protection."Official authorities and their staff shall not use administrative means to force the transfer of technology," the draft says.That compares with a general statement that foreign firms' IP rights would be protected, in 2015.As trade tension flares, there has been growing caution in countries like the United States and Germany about Chinese companies - backed by the state and flush with cash - obtaining advanced foreign technology through aggressive acquisitions abroad.In an apparent move to emphasize reciprocity, the draft law said China would reserve the right to retaliate against countries that discriminate Chinese investment with "corresponding measures".The draft law - the first of its kind - has been submitted to the National People's Congress Standing Committee, which began a session on Sunday, and will hold public consultations until Feb. 24.Once adopted, the law will replace three existing ones that regulate joint ventures and wholly foreign-owned enterprises, although it will likely go through several readings before being submitted for formal approval, which could take another year or more.Some law experts and business consultants remained sceptical about how far the law would protect foreign firms' interests, given a lack of rule of law in China."Laws in China on something like forced technology are paper; the reality may or may not match that paper," said Dan Harris, Seattle-based managing partner of law firm Harris Bricken, which helps firms navigate legal issues overseas including in China."I generally think that on something like this, past history is the best predictor of future performance, and few dispute that China has for the last 10 years been saying it would open up and it all but stopped about five years ago."
Crisis of faith: Tibetan Catholics face modernity in China village
Ruanna, a 77-year-old Tibetan woman living in a remote Chinese village overlooking the Mekong river, says her Catholic faith has never been in doubt."Since birth, I have attended church and read holy scriptures in Tibetan," Ruanna said in her home of Cizhong, where Christmas celebrations are on par with Lunar New Year festivities.Despite the devotion of older Catholics, church leaders and some parents say it is less so among younger villagers."There is a real crisis of faith at this time. Basically no young people are joining," Yao Fei, the village priest, told Reuters. "It's something that makes me really anxious."Cizhong - a six-hour drive from the tourist magnet of Shangri-la in Yunnan province - has been predominately Catholic since the 19th century when French missionaries built a church and converted Tibetan Buddhist residents.China accuses Britain, EU of hypocrisy over Canada detentions concernsYao, a Beijing-trained priest sent to Cizhong in 2008, said he had hoped to set up classes to spark interest in the Bible and Jesus. But he found a younger generation more interested in smartphones and playing video games.Yao said his plans were also stymied by government restrictions on religious teaching for children, as well as regular checks by officials on church activities."The government also has some restrictions, not allowing us to preach to young people... because they never approve of the church growing," Yao said.China's constitution guarantees religious freedom, but since President Xi Jinping took office six years ago, authorities have heightened government control of religion and demanded loyalty to the Communist Party.'Follow The Party'Residents of Cizhong have for centuries blended their Tibetan, Chinese and Catholic identities.The decorations in Ruanna's living room are a patchwork of icons, from crosses and images of Jesus to traditional Tibetan scarves and pictures of Xi.Around 200 mostly elderly villagers gathered for Christmas morning mass on Tuesday, followed by a cream birthday cake for Jesus and rounds of Tibetan dancing. It was a lower turnout than in previous years, villagers said.China commerce ministry says China, US held vice ministerial level call on FridayCatholic traditions in the village are being eroded by politics and economic development, some villagers and Yao said.Outside Cizhong's Catholic church, a red banner urges people to "listen to what the party says, be grateful for the party's kindness, and follow the party"."Families are encouraged to have at least one member to join the Communist Party," said Tibetan hotel owner Hong Xing, a Catholic. "The party member in family has the responsibility to supervise and educate others."Government investment in hydropower dams on the nearby Mekong river and housing blocks for out-of-town workers have also disrupted the rhythms of local life, Yao said."The living standards of villagers have been getting higher in recent years, (but) they are starting to be less devout," Yao said."There are more villagers who don't want to come to prayers or to church. They want to live it up at home," he said.Chinese national charged with stealing trade secrets