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CAIXIN (China), EPOCH TIMES (USA)

Worldcrunch

BEIJING - Internet freedom in China has taken another blow this week. But by the very nature of the medium, every blow to digital access necessarily prompts a blowback.

Caixin media reports that the latest attempt to clamp down was the joint announcement of an official "Notice as to the strengthening of regulations on audio-visual programs such as internet dramas and micro-films' issued by the State Administration for Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) and the State Internet Information Office.

The notice stipulates that in the future all web dramas and short videos need to be examined by their Internet audio-visual program service providers before they are uploaded online. The stated reason for the layer of control is that "some programs are vulgar, low-class, violent or pornographic." But as blogger Yu Bin bluntly puts it, it's also a way of choking off the videos that are used by the public as a means of satire or of denouncing Chinese official corruption or wickedness.

Still, despite the continuing repressive information clampdown of the Chinese authorities, which includes blocking of US Internet giants YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Google, masses of Chinese netizens have learned in "jump the wall," managing to access websites banned by the government. It's not clear what the effect will be with the Internet dramas and short videos, which have quickly risen to become some of the most popular content of China's web thanks to their originality, closeness to daily life and low production costs.

"If the control is too severe, naturally the Internet users will climb over the wall to watch foreign programs to satisfy their spiritual needs," Wu Weiguang, a law professor from China's Tsing Hua University, told Caixin. It's difficult to anticipate how the government's insistence on "adherence to correct orientation and the dissemination of mainstream values' is to be achieved, he further stated.

In responding to the government's new measure suppressing public opinion, a lot of Chinese netizens have over the last two days bombarded SARFT with all kinds of satire. "I strongly urge that the SARFT takes over food safety affairs which lack regulation. We look forward to them solving our endless poisoned food issues with the same iron-fisted determination…", according to the Epoch Times. Yu Bin, the blogger, points out: "Japan is a major exporter of pornographic films, but this doesn't stop it being a noble and civilized country!"

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Geopolitics

Patronage Or Politics? What's Driving Qatar And Egypt Grand Rapprochement

For Cairo, Qatar had been part of an “axis of evil,” with anger directed at Al Jazeera, the main Qatari outlet, and others critical of Egypt after the Muslim Brotherhood ouster. But the vitriol is now gone, with the first ever visit by Egyptian President al-Sisi to Doha.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi met with the Emir of Qatar in June 2022 in Cairo

Beesan Kassab, Daniel O'Connell, Ehsan Salah, Hazem Tharwat and Najih Dawoud

For the first time since coming to power in 2014, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi traveled to Doha last month on an official visit, a capstone in a steadily building rapprochement between the two countries in the last year.

Not long ago, however, the photo-op capturing the two heads of state smiling at one another in Doha would have seemed impossible. In the wake of the Armed Forces’ ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood government in 2013, Qatar and Egypt traded barbs.

In the lexicon of the intelligence-controlled Egyptian press landscape, Qatar had been part of an “axis of evil” working to undermine Egypt’s stability. Al Jazeera, the main Qatari outlet, was banned from Egypt, but, from its social media accounts and television broadcast, it regularly published salacious and insulting details about the Egyptian administration.

But all of that vitriol is now gone.

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