context: The market access negative list has been shortened annually since 2018 and applies to both foreign and domestic non-public sector investors. In the 2021 list, the banning of private investment across a range of media and news service activities has raised concerns on the squeezing of space for non-official public opinion and independent media platforms. Meanwhile, Chinese experts point out that similar media industry restrictions have already been in place since 2010 under flexible implementation guidelines, and the new ban mainly targets independent media influencers that reproduce foreign anti-China rhetoric and disrupt official discourse. Despite ongoing debates, it’s likely that investors will start to shun media ventures amid the recent wave of crackdowns across the private sector.

NDRC (National Development and Reform Commission) released the draft market access negative list (2021 version) on 8 Oct 2021 and is calling for public comment until 14 Oct 2021. The list includes a total of 117 items, a reduced number compared to previous lists (2020’s contained 123 items; 2019’s, 131; and 2018’s, 151).

The list specifies

  • 111 areas allowed market access
  • six areas prohibited from market access
    • products and tech sanctioned by national industrial policies
    • industries included in the ‘elimination’ category
      • cryptocurrency mining activities
    • rule-violating financial activities
    • rule-violating internet activities
    • exploitative activities violating construction requirements in ecological and agricultural areas
    • non-public capital is prohibited from involvement in a range of media and news service activities
      • news gathering, editing and broadcasting services
      • investing and operational news agencies, including but not limited to new agencies, newspapers, radio and television broadcasting, and internet news services
      • live broadcasting of content related to politics, the economy, the military, diplomacy, major social events, culture, technology, health, education, sports and other events affecting public discourse and public values
      • reproduction of news from overseas foreign media sources
      • hosting forums, summits or award events in the fields of news and public opinion