China has introduced a new rule banning the entire international media from posting anything online in the country without prior government approval. The stipulation extends to all categories of media including press, radio, television, music and computer games.
The directive by China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, which will come into effect on 10 March, states: "Sino-foreign joint ventures, Sino-foreign cooperative ventures and foreign business units shall not engage in online publishing services."
Firms that are either government-owned or wholly-owned and based in China would not fall under this edict. However, they have been asked to exercise self-censorship and evaluate all materials before they go online. Another clause in the rule states that server and storage devices, including the data centres, should be located within China.
"Network publishing services units cooperating on projects with mainland Sino-foreign joint ventures, Sino-foreign cooperative ventures and foreign businesses, or foreign organizations or individuals, shall report to State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television for approval in advance," the rule states.
The regulation will come as a massive blow to many foreign media houses including press publications and gaming majors like Sony PlayStation and Microsoft Xbox.
Half of the world's top 20 most visited sites globally are reportedly facing a permanent ban in the country. Some of these include social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, WordPress, Blogspot, internet services like Dropbox, Hootsuite and Scribd. Google and its services including Android, Gmail, Docs and more were blocked for many years, before they were released in 2014.