(Bloomberg) — Xi Jinping’s ascension to power in China five years ago raised hopes that the son of a reformist revolutionary would open the country wider to the West.
Half a decade later and the opposite has happened: China is in the throes of the biggest crackdown on freedom of expression and media in the internet era. Foreign companies complain of restrictions that hamstring operations and favor homegrown players. Police are shutting businesses and arresting civilians on message groups as Beijing plugs more holes in its “Great Firewall” blockade of blacklisted sites.
Xi, who’s expected to cement his leadership of the Communist Party at the congress that started Wednesday, has galvanized a nationwide machine in which corporations, cybercops and automated systems police content to preserve the party’s seven-decade rule. As global giants from Alphabet Inc.’s Google to Facebook Inc. explore entry, they have to weigh the benefits of tapping the world’s biggest internet market against the fallout from appearing to back a repressive regime.
If China’s supreme leader succeeds in shoring up his already extensive influence with another five-year term, web access won’t get any easier for internet players both local and foreign, not to mention the world’s largest populace.
Local Giants
“China has become far bolder and more strategic in its approach to a very old and familiar objective, which is to shore up political control through controls on

 

(Bloomberg) — Xi Jinping’s ascension to power in China five years ago raised hopes that the son of a reformist revolutionary would open the country wider to the West.
Half a decade later and the opposite has happened: China is in the throes of the biggest crackdown on freedom of expression and media in the internet era. Foreign companies complain of restrictions that hamstring operations and favor homegrown players. Police are shutting businesses and arresting civilians on message groups as Beijing plugs more holes in its “Great Firewall” blockade of blacklisted sites.
Xi, who’s expected to cement his leadership of the Communist Party at the congress that started Wednesday, has galvanized a nationwide machine in which corporations, cybercops and automated systems police content to preserve the party’s seven-decade rule. As global giants from Alphabet Inc.’s Google to Facebook Inc. explore entry, they have to weigh the benefits of tapping the world’s biggest internet market against the fallout from appearing to back a repressive regime.
If China’s supreme leader succeeds in shoring up his already extensive influence with another five-year term, web access won’t get any easier for internet players both local and foreign, not to mention the world’s largest populace.
Local Giants
“China has become far bolder and more strategic in its approach to a very old and familiar objective, which is to shore up political control through controls on

 

(Bloomberg) — China’s online watchdog has launched an investigation into reports of multiple violations at news services run by Tencent Holdings Ltd., Baidu Inc. and Weibo Corp., as the government continues to tighten scrutiny over internet content.
The Cyberspace Administration of China said Friday it’s instructed its Beijing and Guangdong branches to look into reports that some of the country’s largest online services are carrying user-generated content laden with “violence, porn, rumors” disruptive to social order. It didn’t specify what actions may be taken. Tencent, Baidu and Weibo said in separate statements they will cooperate with the government on removing questionable content and rectifying any issues.
China has applied increasing pressure over internet media in the run-up to an important Communist Party congress later this year that is expected to consolidate President Xi Jinping’s authority. Intent on muzzling potential sources of disruptive information, the government has shut livestreaming services and websites, tightened regulations governing internet access, and issued repeated warnings about the need to clean up content through various agencies. Observers say the enhanced scrutiny is also characteristic of Xi’s administration.
The latest probe centers on three of the country’s largest repositories of online musings, all with hundreds of millions of users: Tencent’s WeChat messaging service, Weibo’s Twitter-like blog and Baidu’s

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