[JURIST] China's State Council [official website] on Friday ended the authority of the state-run Xinhua News Agency [media website] to screen foreign financial and other news entering the country. In a decree signed by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao [official profile], the government reassigned the power [Xinhua report] to the State Council Information Office [official website, in Mandarin]. A reason for the change was not given, but it may have been designed in part to more tightly control negative financial news entering the country.
In September 2006, China released the media regulations [text] that gave Xinhua ultimate rights of approval [JURIST report] over the distribution and domestic release of foreign news content in China. Criticism of China's restrictions on press freedoms peaked during the 2008 Olympic games in Beijing, and in October 2008, Jiabao indefinitely extended [JURIST report] certain foreign press privileges that had been put in place for the event. Rights and media groups continue to call for a liberalization of restrictive rules and practices [HRW press release] applying to Chinese domestic media.