China media: New internet rules

China's new internet rules are part of an official campaign to stop "online rumours"
Image caption China's new internet rules are part of an official campaign to stop "online rumours"

Media back tougher penalties for posting slanderous messages online, but some papers fear that new rules can be misused to crack down on liberal views and whistleblowers.

New rules reported in state media say internet users who make defamatory comments which are visited by 5,000 users or reposted more than 500 times could face up to three years in prison.

The Guangzhou Daily recalls how the government's energy body threatened to take legal action against Luo Changping, a deputy editor of the respected business magazine Caijing, for "slandering" its former director Liu Tienan.

However, Mr Luo's online posts on Mr Liu's alleged wrongdoing eventually led to the official's removal from the Communist Party and an official probe.

"Needless to say, online rumours and online slander must be combated. But in law enforcement, the relevant departments still need to treat online whistle-blowing with a tolerant mentality and draw boundaries between online whistle-blowing and online rumours or slander to protect and encourage the online fight against corruption," it stresses.

"While combating rumours, we must also protect the online supervision rights of citizens... A strict distinction must be drawn between malicious rumour-mongering and mistaken information. Citizens' space for free speech must be protected while combating crime," adds The Beijing News.

The new rules have also come under fire from internet users.

"I would have to shut up on the internet now. If you want to put a person in jail, the easiest way would be to forward his untrue post 500 times," Hong Kong's South China Morning Post quotes one Chinese Internet user as saying.

In recent months, a number of well-known bloggers and journalists have been detained on allegations such as posting inflammatory remarks, inciting social unrest or "online rumour mongering".

Turning to international news, state media, including China Central Television and Communist Party mouthpieces, are marking the one-year anniversary of the Japanese government's "nationalisation" of disputed East China Sea islands known as the Senkaku in Japan and the Diaoyu in China.

"In the past year, Japan's vile acts of violating China's territorial sovereignty have encountered a strong counter-attack... China's firm action has shown once again that the era of the Chinese nation allow itself to be bullied by others is gone and never to return," says the People's Daily, the Communist Party's most authoritative mouthpiece.

Mysterious blast

In other domestic news, Hong Kong's Ming Pao reports growing speculation over a mysterious blast on Monday outside a primary school near Guilin in southern Guangxi that killed two people and injured at least 45 others. Most of the injured were adults dropping off children for classes, as well as pupils.

The explosion happened when man rode past the gates of Balijie Primary School while children were arriving. The man and a woman riding next to him on an electric bicycle were killed immediately.

Some witnesses believe that the fuel tank of the man's vehicle exploded accidentally.

However, the Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, a Hong Kong-based social unrest monitoring organisation, quotes unnamed sources as saying the man was a petitioner "taking revenge on society". This has not been officially confirmed, the Ming Pao adds.

On China's Teachers' Day, a debate is brewing on whether parents and students should shower teachers with gifts.

More surprisingly, a survey of 97 parents in Beijing by The Beijing News shows that nearly 60% of parents feel obliged to give gifts to teachers to ensure that they give extra attention or better grades to their children.

Some parents will even fork out a few thousand yuan for expensive gift vouchers and petrol vouchers.

And finally, the Ta Kung Pao, Ming Pao and other Hong Kong newspapers bring good news about Guo Bin, a six year-old boy who had both his eyes gouged out in northern Shanxi province. He will be given artificial eye implants later this week at a hospital in Shenzhen.

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