IFJ Press Freedom in China

9th August 2010

1. Assaults on Journalists Prompt Encouraging Response From Authorities

The General Administrative of Press and Publication of China (GAPP) issued a rare statement on July 30 noting the rights of media workers following three recent incidents. A Shenzhen-based journalist, Chen Xiaoying, of the China Times, was punched in the head by an unidentified man on July 29 when she arrived for an appointment with an anonymous source. Chen believes the assault was connected to her report on a listed company, Shenzhen International Enterprise Co., published on July 18, which alleged that its managing director may have been involved in inappropriate activities. In Shanghai on July 30, four people broke into the office of National Business Daily and harassed staff after the newspaper reported allegations that products of shampoo manufacturer Bawang Group might contain excessive levels of chemicals. A separate incident in Lishui City Suichang County also contributed to the GAPP response. The Economic Observer’s Qiu Ziming discovered his name on an online “wanted persons” list of the local security bureau on July 23, after he published three articles on Zhejiang Kan Specialties Material Corporation’s suspected involvement in stock exchange breaches. The security bureau deleted Qiu’s name and apologised on July 30 but gave no firm commitment to investigate Qiu’s allegations of harassment and attempted bribery from those who sought to cover up his reports. The IFJ is encouraged by the GAPP statement and urges media organisations to report all cases of assault and intimidation.
2. IFJ Condemns Jailing of Uyghur Media Workers, Writer

The IFJ condemned the sentencing of four Uyghur media workers and a writer for three to 15 years’ jail. Writer Gheyret Niyaz, 51, a former journalist and a frequent writer at Uighurbiz.net, was convicted of divulging state secrets and sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment on July 23. Radio Free Asia reported that Gheyret was convicted for accepting an interview with a Hong Kong magazine, Asia Week, where he revealed he had twice warned the Government of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region ahead of the outburst of ethnic unrest in July 2009. On July 30, more than 20 of China’s scholars requested the local government release Gheyret unconditionally. Dilshat Perhat,Nureli, Nijat Azat and one unnamed person, employees of Uyghur language website Diyarim.com, were convicted of endangering state security and sentenced to between three and 10 years’ jail each. The IFJ urged the Xinjiang Government to swiftly and unconditionally release the four prisoners.
3. Death Threat on Journalist Reporting on Floods

A journalist with the China Economic Times, Liu Jianfeng, received a life-threatening note on July 9, a day after he reported on his blog that people had drowned during floods in Jiangxi. His original report, published in the print and online editions of the paper, had been edited by senior management, who reclassified three deaths caused by the floods as “disappearances”. According to a Radio Free Asia report, Liu found a note at his home which said, “Watch out when you go out!” Liu believes the note was sent by agents of the Jiangxi Government, who had also allegedly offered him a bribe of 3000 yuan (about USD 443) on June 29. The IFJ urged China’s Central Government and Security Bureau to promptly investigate the threats and bribery allegations, and called on the All-China Journalists’ Association to discourage self-censorship.
4. Report Details Hong Kong Media Rights Infringements

The IFJ was concerned by information in a new report that documents increasing media rights infringements in Hong Kong in the past 12 months. The annual report of the Hong Kong Journalists’ Association (HKJA), an IFJ affiliate, reports several threats to media freedom, including increased restrictions on journalists and incidents of harassment and assault. Many of the media rights violations reported by the HKJA are in stark contrast to the Basic Law of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, which grants its people freedom of the press, freedom of expression and freedom of publication. The IFJ urged Hong Kong’s Government to uphold the Basic Law, which is a responsibility that comes with being a signatory of the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The IFJ’s 2009 press freedom report, China Clings to Control, noted a number of cases where Hong Kong journalists were assaulted or detained while working in China. Find the IFJ’s report here.
5. Journalist Beaten While Reporting Building Collapse

Lin Feng, a journalist of Southeast Express, controlled by the Fujian branch of China’s Council for the Promotion of International Trade, which is in turn under the direction of the Fujian Provincial Government, was assaulted by a group of unidentified people on July 8 when he was reporting on the collapse of a building in a village of Cangshan District, Fuzhou, Fujian province. During the scuffle, his camera was snatched and all images were deleted. Lin said some local villagers alleged that the group was instructed by a village representative who was related to local officials involved in breaching the building’s construction regulations. Journalists from other media outlets were forbidden to get closer to the vicinity.
6. Interview Request Answered with Assault

Chen Wenguang, of Zhejiang TV, suffered stomach injuries and his camera was damaged in an assault by an official of Lu Bu village, in Liandu District, on July 16, following his request to interview village vice-officer Zeng Guofeng regarding construction of a resort without official approval. No promise has been made by authorities to investigate the case.
7. Hong Kong and Foreign Journalists Detained for Reporting Rally

The IFJ was concerned by an attempt by police to block Hong Kong and foreign media access and reporting of an August 1 rally in Guangdong to protect the city’s colloquial language. Journalists in China were banned from covering the event, and were instructed by authorities to use government news agency reports instead. Journalist Lam Kin-seng, of Hong Kong-based Cable TV, reported that police surrounded the group of Hong Kong and foreign media workers before taking them to a temporary office where they were detained for almost six hours, interrogated and accused of being involved in “attempting to disrupt social order”. The IFJ urged the General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP) of China and the All China Journalists’ Association to work to ensure officials at all levels understand the rights of the media that are enshrined in China’s Constitution.
8. Ban on Report of Killings at Kindergarten

A non-publication order was made by the Shandong propaganda department about the killing of three toddlers at a kindergarten in Boshan District, Zibo City, Shandong Province, on August 3. An IFJ source said a number of toddlers and teachers were also injured before the attacker absconded. The source said the local government’s prohibition on media reports may be because many local government officials’ children attend the kindergarten.
9. Negative Newspaper Reports from Outside Home Province Banned

In July, the Central Propaganda Department tightened regulations to prevent provincial city newspapers from publishing negative articles written by newspapers located in other provinces. City newspapers must now source state-owned media when reporting on spontaneous news, unless an event is viewed specifically by a staff reporter on the scene. “The aim of the order is to strengthen the local government’s ability to control the dissemination of negative reports about their own cities,” a journalist who is working in a city newspaper said. “We’d heard that some of the local governments had complained to the Central Propaganda Government of negative stories being published about their province. The order affects the watch-dog power of media.” The IFJ urged China’s authorities to revoke the order as it is a clear violation of the principles of press freedom which are enshrined in article 35 of China’s Constitution.
10. Reporting on CEO Allegations and Rules for Party Leaders Restricted

The Central Propaganda Department issued an order on July 12 that all media not report an allegation that a former CEO of Microsoft (China), Tang Jun, was involved in a fake doctoral degree incident. Tang’s case became a hot topic online in China, which prompted some of the media to investigate whether any celebrities in China were involved in the unethical obtaining of academic results. On July 5 the department ordered controls on reporting about a new regulation requiring Party leaders to register personal data about themselves and their family members. The order directs all media to use government-run Xinhua News Agency reports about the regulation.
11. Internet Monitoring Raises Concerns

The IFJ was worried that a number of moves by China’s authorities to justify increased monitoring of online activity will adversely impact journalists. The Government of Tibet demanded all internet cafes install a distance monitoring online system by the end of August after instruction from the Ministry of Culture of China. The system records all websites that internet users access, as well as messages in chat rooms or Skype, which are often used by journalists. A Tibetan news website reported on July 30 that the ministry said it was trying to protect minors. However some scholars queried this as all internet users are already required to use their personal identity registration number to play online games, which prevents minors from using the cafes for this purpose. Meanwhile, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences reported on July 1 that some social networking websites are being used by western intelligence agencies to collect political information. According to the China Daily, the research report “China New Media Development 2010” said that social networking websites had fast become a platform for people who attempt to upset the social order. Since early July many bloggers have complained that their blogs at sina and sohu were suddenly blocked.

Source taken from: http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/WO1008/S00138/ifj-press-freedom-in-china.htm


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