The mainland's top internet regulator slammed the news portal run by the hawkish Global Times tabloid this week for running sensationalist polls and reports on sensitive issues, according to a source with direct knowledge of the matter and a Radio France Internationale report.
Among the offending items were a poll last month about whether mainlanders supported unifying Taiwan by force, an editorial on US presidential hopeful Donald Trump, and an op-ed on the looming release of the last Tiananmen prisoner.
In the written criticism circulated to senior editors of other major mainland news portals, the Cyberspace Administration of China said the Global Times' decision to run the poll ahead of the inauguration of Taiwan's pro-independence president-elect this month prompted a strong reaction from the island.
About 85 per cent of respondents to the poll on Taiwan supported unification by force, and 58 per cent of those agreed the best time for it would be within five years. The poll was "a serious violation of news discipline and had caused serious political consequences", the CAC said. "All websites should learn from the lesson and refrain from polls."