Tag Archives: Media harassment

Catching up: Chinese president says press had it coming

Chinese president Xi Jinping was forced to take an unscripted question from a Western reporter during President Obama’s visit to China last month.

After first seemingly ignoring the question, Xi doubled back to address the issue raised of visas for Western journalists by the reporter.

Mark Lander of the New York Times reported:

After first taking an unrelated, clearly scripted, question from a state-owned Chinese paper — which drew a quizzical facial expression from Mr. Obama — Mr. Xi circled back, declaring that the visa problems of the news organizations, including The Times, were of their own making.

Mr. Xi insisted that China protected the rights of news media organizations but that they needed to abide by the rules of the country. “When a certain issue is raised as a problem, there must a reason,” he said, evincing no patience for the news media’s concerns about being penalized for unfavorable news coverage of Chinese leaders and their families.

So basically Xi’s excuse for not issuing visas to Western reporters is the same excuse a husband gives when accused of beating his wife: It was all the other person’s fault.

 

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New campaign to free journalists

Thanks to Roy Greenslade at The Guardian for pointing out the new Reporters Without Borders campaign to help journalists in Eritrea, Saudi Arabia and China.

Press freedom body highlights plight of Eritrea’s jailed journalists

Reporters Without Borders (RWB), the Paris-based press freedom watchdog, has launched a fund-raising campaign based around the plight of jailed journalists inEritrea, China and Saudi Arabia.

The Eritrean prisoner is Dawit Isaak, who has been imprisoned without trial for 13 years after being arrested along with other newspaper editors in 2001.

Isaak is reported to be dying slowly in a prison camp where detainees are tortured by being shut inside steel containers during periods of intense heat. And RWB has used that image of a container to publicise its campaign.

Read full article here.

 

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25 years since Tiananmen Square demonstrations

The Chinese government is pulling out all the stops to make sure the official party line on the Tiananmen Square killings is the only one heard in China.

Besides the usual heavy-handed directives from Beijing to all media outlets on what to say and what not to say, the government has also moved against the Internet community in China, known as Netizens.

So, of course, anyone making any comments that challenge the official line gets in trouble: Professor’s Microblog Axed After Tiananmen Comment

For many, it is difficult remembering how things were 25 years ago. China Digital Times is running a series of articles and observations from that turbulent period in modern Chinese history

And while the rest of the world will be looking back at what happened then, the government leaders will just keep on doing “business as usual” rather than deal with the wound created 25 years ago.

And I should add that the ONLY place under Beijing rule that is allowed to openly discuss what happened at Tiananmen Square and is able to have demonstrations calling for a full investigation into what happened is Hong Kong.

And here is the famous “Tank Man” who stood up to the Chinese tanks heading to the square.

 

 

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China channels Casablanca: “Round up the usual suspects.”

It’s that time again and Beijing has repeated the order Louie gave to his underlings at the Casablanca airport: “Round up the usual suspects.”

Activist arrested for planning Tiananmen hunger strike

Two prominent activists in the eastern city of Hangzhou have been taken into police custody since Friday for attempting to draw attention to the military crackdown on June 4, 1989 during which more than 200 protesters are believed to have died.

Each year the security police round up anyone who has called for an accounting of the government’s action in Tiananmen Square in 1989.

I watched it in action during my time in Shanghai (1992-1994). Our phone lines suddenly had more static and some lines, like those for Western reporters, temporarily “had difficulties.” Extra “security” put in front of the Western consulates and housing enclaves of Western diplomats and businessmen.

Editors and reporters regularly get transferred to other positions to make sure they do not have the opportunity to print or air anything that might call into question the government’s official line that is basically: “Nothing of interest happened in the Tiananmen Square area June 4.”

Things have not changed since then.

And thanks to China Digital Times for pointing the latest outrage.

 

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Filed under China, Harassment, International News Coverage

Censorship for hire: China’s corruption hits the Internet

Sometimes the government officials in China — from the national to the local levels — just make it too easy to find more and more reasons why censorship doesn’t work.

First, corrupt officials can use the censorship rules to block any mention of their malfeasance;

Second,  eventually the information gets out.

And so we have the fun case of the deputy chief of the Internet team at the Haikou City Public Security Department who was caught accepting bribes and got 10 years in prison. 

It seems he used his authority to censor the Internet to make sure any references to his own corrupt activities were deleted from chat rooms and blogs.

What is the Price of Press Censorship?

The fact that Chinese media don’t dare report is that in the larger context of corruption within the propaganda regime, these web police are actually insignificant. The golden goose is the propaganda department and its local branches. The propaganda department controls not just the internet, but also newspapers, television and book publishing. It has not just the power to order the deletion of web posts, but can also tell all of the media under its shadow what needs to be reported.

Moreover, the propaganda department also controls personnel issues for the vast majority of media. It can order the punishment of media staff, remove publishers or editors in chief, and even tell media to fire journalists. Many local propaganda departments even have the power to impose economic sanctions on media.

Full article

Once again many thanks to the China Media Project for bringing details of this case forward.

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Press Freedom at Lowest Point in Decade

Freedom House released its 2014 Press Freedom Report today. And the news is not good for lovers of free and independent media.

The decline was driven in part by major regression in several Middle Eastern states, including Egypt, Libya, and Jordan; marked setbacks in Turkey, Ukraine, and a number of countries in East Africa; and deterioration in the relatively open media environment of the United States.

“We see declines in media freedom on a global level, driven by governments’ efforts to control the message and punish the messenger,” said Karin Karlekar, project director of the report. “In every region of the world last year, we found both governments and private actors attacking reporters, blocking their physical access to newsworthy events, censoring content, and ordering politically motivated firings of journalists.”

A quick glance at the map makes it clear that press freedom is in danger. (FYI: Green is good! And you will notice that there is blessed little green on this map.)

You can view the panel discussion when the report was released here:

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Filed under Censorship, Connections, Freedom of access, Freedom of Information, Press Freedom

Proof censorship is bad for business

The ProPublica headline and story says it all:

Weibo IPO Reveals a Company Struggling With Censorship

Weibo, “China’s Twitter,” started offering shares on NASDAQ yesterday. Its regulatory disclosures reveal a company’s balancing act between censoring too much and too little.

As required under SEC regulations, the company must list for investors potential risks that might affect its share price. Weibo is up front about the risk the Chinese government’s regulation of content poses to its ability so succeed. “Failure to [censor] may subject us to liabilities and penalties and may even result in the temporary blockage or complete shutdown of our online operations.”

Under a section titled “Risks Relating to Doing Business in China,” the company cites as a material risk not being able to censor user content quickly enough for the Chinese government, and describes a three-day period in March 2012 when Weibo disabled commenting completely so censors could “clean up” all content regarding a topic. The company did not disclose the topic but the Wall Street Journal reported in March 2012 that China put temporary restrictions on Sina, Weibo’s parent company, as well as Tencent, a rival microblogging service, and that it was “detaining individuals that it accused of spreading rumors of a coup attempt in Beijing.” That week, according to the Journal story, Sina and Tencent placed identical notices on their web sites, warning users that the ability to comment on posts was being shut down for three days.

Rest of article.

And that does not even take into account the amount of money wasted dealing with rumors because no one trusts the state-run media to fairly report news.

Social media sites offer a chance for people to swap stories, but like the game of “Telephone,” what starts out at the beginning is not  necessarily what comes out at the end. If the Chinese government were really serious about preventing social unrest, it would drop its censorship and let reporters freely and accurately report what is going on. It would also stop blocking open discussions among the people in China.

But then again, that might destabilize the iron grip the Communist party has on everything. They would have to give up power. And that — to them — is too destabilizing and dangerous.

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