BEIJING—Chinese authorities are training their sights on a new set of targets: economists, analysts and business reporters with gloomy views on the country’s economy.
Securities regulators, media censors and other government officials have issued verbal warnings to commentators whose public remarks on the economy are out of step with the government’s upbeat statements, according to government officials and commentators with knowledge of the matter.
The stepped-up censorship, many inside and outside the ruling Communist Party say, represents an effort by China’s leadership to quell growing concerns about the country’s economic prospects as it experiences a prolonged slowdown in growth. As more citizens try to take money out of the country, officials say, regulators and censors are trying to foster an environment of what party officials have dubbed “zhengnengliang,” or “positive energy.”
In the past, Chinese authorities have targeted mainly political dissidents while commentary about the economy and reporting on business has been left relatively unfettered in a tacit acknowledgment that a freer flow of information serves economic vitality.
But Beijing has moved to reassert control of the country’s economic story line after policy stumbles that contributed to selloffs in China’s stock markets and its currency last year fed doubts among investors about the government’s ability to navigate the slowdown.