China forms mega internet group to promote Party development in industry
China's first federation of internet societies will push internet companies to clean cyberspace and safeguard the country's internet security and sovereignty, Chinese cyberspace analysts said on Thursday.
China's internet-related social organizations formed a national confederation on Wednesday. Called the China Federation of Internet Societies (CFIS), the group consists of 300 internet organizations and enterprises, including 23 national organizations and 277 local ones, the Xinhua News Agency reported.
The CFIS will provide political guidance for member organizations, encourage them to improve operations, help them express their needs and protect their interests, oversee operations of member organizations, and promote the development of Party organizations in the industry, said Ren Xianliang, CFIS president, at the inauguration ceremony. The CFIS is supervised by the Cyberspace Administration of China.
News site caijing.com.cn reported that many celebrities in the internet industry, including Alibaba's founder Jack Ma Yun, Tencent founder and chairman Pony Ma Huateng and Baidu CEO and chairman Robin Li Yanhong, were appointed as CFIS vice presidents.
Zhao Zhanling, a legal counsel of the Beijing-based Internet Society of China, told the Global Times that the government is urging internet companies to voluntarily and actively participate in cyberspace administration through the establishment of the CFIS.
"Just relying on government authorities is far from enough in administering cyberspace, and it's more important that CFIS members voluntarily clean the cyberspace environment," Zhao said.
Many internet companies this month stepped up management to their content after internet authorities punished video websites Toutiao and Kuaishou.
Companies like Sina Weibo, Tencent and Youku have established special teams to take down audio and video programs suspected of distorting history and involving pornography and violence. They have removed over 1.5 million improper audios and videos, shut down 40,000 accounts and intercepted over 13.5 million messages, the State Administration of Radio and Television announced on Thursday.
Internet companies also tightened their content supervision systems, established databases for harmful videos and even adopted facial recognition in user authentication.
"The CFIS, highlighting its role to promote Party spirit in the industry, is significant for internet companies to maintain internet security to avoid political risks, such as to prevent foreign spy agencies or extreme forces from manipulating Chinese netizens," Zhao said.
Qin An, head of the Beijing-based Institute of China Cyberspace Strategy, said that the Party should step up its guidance of CFIS members so that internet companies could raise their awareness in safeguarding China's sovereignty and interests.
"But the Party units will not interfere in the operations of these companies," Zhao said.