Press Freedom in China Bulletin: June

Welcome to IFJ Asia-Pacific’s monthly Press Freedom in China Campaign e-bulletin. The next bulletin will be sent onJuly8, 2016.

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 In this bulletin:

 

1)    Lanzhou journalist ordered to withdraw report

2)    Restrictive Orders issued in May

3)    Writer under home detention disappears

4)    Several people detained in the lead up to Tiananmen Anniversary

5)    Macau journalists were forced to self-censored

 

1)    Lanzhou journalist ordered to withdraw report

On May 20, Dou Wenjie, a journalist from the Western Economic Daily, was repeatedly harassed and forced to delete a series of Weibo messages. According to Dou’s personal blog and several Mainland media reports, Dou went to a local hospital in Lanzhou to investigate reports that several primary school students were admitted to the hospital. When he arrived, he was barred from reported by several people, who were later identified as working for the local Education Department. After he was barred from reporting, Dou posted a message on his personal Weibo account which immediately drew the attention from the local Propaganda Department in Yuzhong. Immediately, an officer from the Propaganda Department demanded Dou delete the message, which Dou immediately did. However, the officer continued to demand that Dou admit to making a false report. Dou refused the demand, following this, the Western Economic Daily did notreceive an investigative report from the local government, which Dou believed was to punish the Daily for Dou’s refusal. Dou was also ordered to meet the Deputy Minister of the Propaganda Department of Lanzhou who verbally assaulted Dou for ‘giving them trouble’.

2)    Restrictive Orders issued in May

A.   May 9, 2016: The Cyber Administration Office ordered all online media not to post any reports about Lei Yang, who died in suspicious circumstances following police arrest. All outlets were banned from publishing any reports in prominent areas including the home page, and had to tightly monitor all messages and comments. The following day, May 10, a second restrictive order was published banning all outlets from republishing any reports from non-government sources and ordering outlets to delete all negative comments from their websites.

On May 7, Lei Yang, 29-year-old, a postgraduate environmental studies student, was alleged by Changping District police, Beijing, of involving in a sex trade in a pedicure salon. On May 8, his family members were informed by the police that Lei was dead. Police said Lei resisted law enforcement and intended to run away, the police took mandatory constraint measures on him. However Lei became ill on the way and was rushed to the hospital but died after invalid rescue efforts. Lei’s wife and family members did not believe in what police’s allegation. They found several bruises in Lei’s arms and head. At the same time, Lei’s family found all records of WeChat messages and GPS records had been removed.

B.   May 9, 2016: The Cyber Administration Office issued a Restrictive Order banning all online media outlets from conducting any public polls and demanding The Global Times, a sister publication of the People’s Daily, to enhance their editorial managements and enhance staff political awareness. Between May 4 and 9, The Global Times published a series of sensitive reports, relating to responses from a public poll which said that 85% of Mainlanders agreed with ‘use of force’ to reunify Taiwan.

C.   May 13, 2016: The Cyber Administration Office issued a release demanding all online media outlets only republish articles from Xinhua and other Central Government departments, in relation to reports about Ling Jihua, the former deputy head of China’s National political advisory body, who has been charged with taking bribes, illegally obtaining state secrets and abuse of power, by the Supreme People’s Procuratorate. The restrictive order also included a series of demands including: no individual news reporting, no feature stories, no editorial changes to official articles.

D.   May 18-20, 2016: The State Administration Press Publication Radio Film and Television (SAPPRFT) and the Cyber Administration Office issued a reminder and restrictive order to all online media banning them from broadcasting the inauguration of Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen. The SAPPRFT order said all websites with audio and visual services were  not allowed to conduct live broadcasting or republish other media’s broadcasting, as according to Rule 17 of the Administrative Provisions on Internet Audio-Visual Program Service regulation which says that only local government and Central Government control broadcasting stations have permits to broadcast political news report. The Cyber Administration Office order demanded all media only republish official media reports about President Tsai Ing-wen’s inauguration. Media were banned from using any other sources and any political information deemed ‘harmful’ was to be immediately deleted. The order also said that outlets were banned from using social media including Weibo, to disseminate information about the inauguration.

3)    Writer under home detention disappears

Li Tie, a writer from Sichuan, was reported missing in mid-May. According to several media reports, Li’s wife, Ten Hengfeng, confirmed Li’s disappearance, saying she did not know why he had disappeared, and only became aware of the situation when she was informed by the Chengdu police. Ten declined to make any further comments but said that she believed the disappearance was related to Li’s ‘home detention’ that he was serving. In March 2016, Li was charged with picking quarrels and stirring up troubles over 11 articles he wrote which criticised the Communist Party propaganda chief, Liu Yunshan.

4)    Several people detained in the lead up to Tiananmen Anniversary

On May 30, Fu Hailu, an activist, was detained and accused of subverting state power, after he paid tribute to the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre on his personal Weibo account. The post, which indirectly referenced the anniversary, was a picture of a bottle of wine named 8964, which means June 4, 1989, the date of the massacre. The following day, Fu and poet, Ma Qing were arrested by police. Fu was arrested because of the original post, and Ma was arrested for encouraging people to buy the wine.

On June 1, at least three activists from Guangzhou were detained by police after they paid tribute to the victims of the massacre by lighting 27 candles in a house on May 31.

5)    Macau journalists were forced to self-censored

On May 13, the Macau Media Workers Association issued a statement, condemning the actions of several local journalists who were self-censoring. The Association said that several journalists had refused to reveal the names of government officials that were sources in articles they had written about allegations of favouritism against Macau’s chief executive, Fernando Chui Sai-on.

The statement said: “reports were deleted and comments from critical interviewees were removed, some journalists were deliberately reassigned beats. One media outlet gave a list of interviewees to journalists and demanded they interview them when they report the relevant news. The journalists were also told that the news report should be positive”.

The Macau Media Workers Association said: “(We) have reasons to believe that media outlets have exercised self censorship but they also received Governmental pressure from the outside.” On May 5, The People’s Daily, reported that the Macau Foundation, a semi-official foundation, which receives some government funding and aims to develop Macau’s universities, and is oversees by Fernando Chui Sai-on, Macau’s chief executive, has donated 100 million yuan toJinan University, a Guangzhou university but not a Macau local university. Chui is the deputy head of the Jinan university’s board and chairman of the foundation’s board of trustees. Chui was accused used public money to achieve his own political interest.

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