China’s cyber-watchdog on Wednesday issued new regulations for domestic financial information providers, in an apparent crackdown on online content deemed detrimental to the country’s financial stability as the economy slows.
Financial information providers are not allowed to distort Chinese fiscal and monetary policies, disturb economic order or to harm the country’s interests, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) said in a statement on its website.
Service providers being targeted include those involved in financial analysis, financial trading and financial decision-making, but do not include foreign wire services, according to CAC.
The CAC said violators of the regulations, which take effect on Feb. 1, will be “condemned publicly” and “ordered to rectify” their errors. Criminal cases will be brought forward if violations constitute a crime, it added.
The move came as slowing growth for the world’s second-biggest economy has spurred calls from academics and entrepreneurs for more stimulus policies.
Domestic providers of financial information are expanding rapidly, and some institutions that aren’t strict in supervising content are speculating on market risks and publishing sensitive market information and distorting financial regulatory polices, the CAC in a Q&A issued after publication of the regulations.
“[They] have brought an impact on the economic and financial stability, and should be addressed immediately,” the CAC said.
Financial information providers are also not allowed to fabricate news or events that could move stock, funds, futures and foreign-exchange markets.
In recent years, China has tightened oversight of online content, concerned about the spread of politically “harmful” information, pornography, fake news and efforts to “defame the nation’s image.”
Online criticism of the government’s economic and trade policies is also frowned upon, as China’s economy further loses momentum despite a raft of supportive measures rolled out this year.
While Chinese policymakers admit pressure on the economy is increasing, state media has focused on the vastness of China’s consumer market, progress in reforms and market access, and the idea that no reward would come without hard work.
Tianfeng Securities, a mainland securities firm, said in a research note published in November that more than two million job advertisements on a prominent Chinese job website disappeared from its website this year because of the economic slump.
According to the job website 51job, Tianfeng’s findings had misled the market and raised widespread concerns about employment stability and the health of the broader economy.