The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has released a new report on current abuses of press freedom in China entitled China Clings to Control: Press Freedom in 2009.
The IFJ says the report reveals “how widespread and thorough censorship is in China...and provides a detailed account of media bans issued by Chinese authorities.”
The report “highlights the arbitrary manner in which Chinese authorities forbid reporting on numerous issues, manipulating the flow of information. The Chinese media are routinely pummelled with restrictions, leaving very little room for independent news gathering”.
Reporting on corruption, political reform in Hong Kong and the details of the Xinjiang riots in which almost 200 were killed has been banned. In addition, authorities did not permit reporting on stories like the closure of a research centre run by human rights lawyers who provided assistance to minority groups. For coverage of the one-year anniversary of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, journalists were told they could only use state information and were not permitted to talk to survivors of the tragedy.
A local journalist told IFJ: "It has been a really difficult year for press freedom in China. Propaganda departments have issued bans on the media, one after another. Cases of journalists being beaten have been reported again and again. The environment for journalism is awful - this is particularly evident when looking at what information is published on the Internet."
Foreign journalists faced many challenges as well, including destruction of work equipment and being barred from public spaces. The report outlines cases of foreign journalists being detained and Chinese assistants being punished for working with foreign media crews."
But the report also says that journalists do persevere in their reporting and ignore orders to not talk to a particular group of people or to not visit a specific village. And resilient netizens are finding ways to circumvent fire walls.
The IFJ report makes several recommendations, including a call for the immediate release of imprisoned journalists, an end to the arbitrary detention, harassment and intimidation of local journalists and their assistants and sources, as well as freedom of movement for journalists to report in all areas of China.
Sourced from IFJ Asia Pacific:
Link to IFJ report: China Clings to Control: Press Freedom in 2009