BEIJING, July 8 China will toughen curbs on
journalists disclosing state and commercial secrets, a top media
regulator said on Tuesday, in the latest effort by President Xi
Jinping's government to muzzle critical speech, both in
traditional media and online.
News outfits must stiffen oversight of material obtained by
journalists and other employees containing national and
commercial secrets and information that has not yet been made
public, the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio,
Film and Television said in a statement.
News organisations must also require employees to sign
pledges that they will not disclose secrets.
China's state secrets law is notoriously broad, covering
everything from capital punishment statistics to industry data.
Information can be labelled a state secret retroactively.
The issue drew international attention in 2009 when an
Australian citizen and three Chinese colleagues working for
mining giant Rio Tinto were detained for stealing state secrets
during the course of tense iron ore talks.
Last month the regulator said reporters must not publish
critical reports without prior approval.
News employees must not store, copy or record secrets, the
notice added. Disclosing secrets in personal communications or
via personal blogs and social media accounts is also forbidden.
Journalists are also barred from providing the information
to foreign media groups.
China adopted tough measures to rein in online rumours last
year, but critics say the campaign targets criticism of the
ruling Communist Party and has discouraged political discussion.
The Chinese press is heavily censored, with media outfits
and journalists required to obtain government licenses. Reforms
over the past two decades have allowed commercialisation and
some editorial independence, however.
(Reporting by Megha Rajagopalan; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)