Last year independent book store owners in Hong Kong disappeared without a trace. After a few months, the Chinese government admitted they had been arrested and imprisoned. This despite promises that Hong Kong would be allowed to retain a degree of autonomy.

China planted a flag on the ocean floor of the South China sea. Although it was positioned as celebrating a technological achievement, it sent a message about Chinese claims to those waters.

Then it began dredging and filling to create islands in disputed territory, promising Obama in October they were not to be used for military purposes. Last week, it became obvious that they had installed surface-to-air missiles on Woody Island. John Kerry raised an objection and was told this was none of our business.

The Chinese military once ran a massive cyber-theft operation that stole millions of dollars worth of intellectual property from US companies. When we complained, they offloaded the operation to “civilian” hackers.

The new regulation states: “Sino-foreign joint ventures, Sino-foreign cooperative ventures and foreign business units shall not engage in online publishing services.”

It is the communist republic’s latest move to tighten control over what its people can view on the internet and highlights the increasingly restrictive political climate in China, where the leadership has sought to rein in public speech and thought.

Now comes this:

China is set to ban foreign media companies from publishing any content online without the government’s approval from next month, it has been announced.

A new directive issued by China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has said that companies which have, at least in part, foreign ownership will be stopped from publishing words, pictures, maps, games, animation and sound of an “informational and thoughtful nature” – unless they have approval from the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television.

This means only companies wholly Chinese owned will be able to publish online, subject to strict self-censorship in line with the government’s views.