China’s internet watchdog seeks ‘favourable’ environment ahead of policy meeting

The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) has called upon all departments and web platforms in China to create a favorable public opinion environment in preparation for an upcoming four-day meeting. This meeting is set to commence in approximately two weeks. Niu Yibing, the deputy director of CAC, emphasized the need to adhere to the correct political position of directing public opinion and orienting social values.

The statement also highlighted the importance of balancing the relationship between security and development. Internet platforms should utilize the internet to stimulate economic growth, particularly in new industries, while simultaneously enhancing content management and control to prevent potential risks and hidden dangers.

Key figures from CAC’s Beijing headquarters and provincial branches, along with representatives from leading internet companies, attended the meeting. In the aftermath of the meeting, internet platforms began to crack down on ultranationalist comments, particularly those related to the death of Hu Youping, who attempted to halt a knife attack on a Japanese school bus.

Although it is common for the internet watchdog to regulate online opinion before significant political events, it is crucial for the watchdog to exercise caution to avoid actions that may negatively impact economic growth. Alfred Wu, an associate professor at the National University of Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, stated that the top priority remains security ahead of the party plenum, but regulators must also be mindful of not overstepping boundaries in the name of security, to avoid repeating past mistakes such as the online gaming rule proposal that led to a significant market downturn.

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