NEW YORK—New efforts from Chinese regulators to shut down celebrity gossip sites are the latest demonstration of the extreme lengths that Chinese censors will go to in order to ensure their control over all news and commentary within the country, PEN America said today.

On Wednesday, June 7, officials from the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), an internet regulatory body, met with representatives of China’s internet companies and exhorted them to “actively promote socialist core values” and to “adopt effective measures to keep in check” celebrity reporting that “cater[ed] to the poor taste of the public.” In the aftermath of this meeting, several major Chinese internet platforms—including social media behemoths Tencent, Baidu, and Weibo—have shut down dozens of popular blogs and public accounts that post celebrity news and related entertainment.

The shutdown of such accounts comes days after new regulations from the CAC, as well as a new Cybersecurity Law, took effect. The Cybersecurity Law grants the government dramatically expanded access to information held by internet operators, while the new CAC regulations enable significant government control over all forms of online speech.

“The list of subjects in news or literature where Chinese citizens are free from significant government interference grows ever-smaller,” said James Tager, Free Expression Programs Manager at PEN America. “These newest efforts to close down these celebrity news pages demonstrates that Chinese censorship is accelerating and expanding.”

In recent months, PEN America has documented Chinese authorities’ efforts to control free expression include the introduction of new measures to restrict access to foreign children’s books, the suspension of a feminist group’s social media accounts, and the assault and coerced confession of a foreign journalist reporting on a local land dispute.

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PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.

CONTACT: Sarah Edkins, Director of Communications: sedkins@pen.org, +1.646.779.4830