IFJ Report Calls on China to Meet Press Freedom Challenge

A new report by the International

Federation of Journalists (IFJ) on press freedom in China’s

Olympic year highlights significant shortcomings in China’s approach to press freedom

during 2008.

 

The report, China’s Olympic Challenge: Press Freedom in 2008,

is the result of a 12-month press freedom monitoring project coordinated by IFJ Asia-Pacific from Sydney

and Hong Kong. It examines the major problems faced

by foreign and local journalists reporting in China during 2008.

 

When granted the Olympic Games, China

promised that all foreign journalists, including journalists from Hong Kong,

Macau and Taiwan,

would enjoy freedom to report. Overall, despite some bright spots, the report

finds that China

did not live up to its promises.

 

The report also addresses the difficulties faced by mainland

journalists, as well as journalists working in Hong Kong and Macau.

 

The situation for mainland journalists, who received less

international attention than their colleagues from overseas, remained grim and

there were few signs of improvement through the year. Mainland journalists

continued to be jailed for doing their jobs, and state security organs

continued to clamp down on free reporting and on online journalism.

 

The information in the report was contributed by a wide

network coordinated by the IFJ under the monitoring project, including contributors

from mainland China

and outside the country. That many contributors must remain anonymous for fear

of reprisals highlights the reality of media freedom in China.

 

The IFJ calls on China’s Government to take several

immediate actions, including the following:

 

-  Release jailed journalists and cease

to jail journalists for doing their jobs.

-  End restrictions and punishments for

online journalists.

-  End the use of state security and

social order laws to intimidate and silence journalists.

-  Ensure that new rules allowing

foreign journalists a free hand while reporting are implemented on the ground,

and understood by law enforcement and security officials.

 

“China

did not live up to its Olympic promise to allow free and independent reporting

by all journalists in China

during 2008,” IFJ General Secretary Aidan White

said.

 

“However, the IFJ did see signs progress on media freedom as

China

basked in the Olympic spotlight. While authorities in some areas repeatedly

set up obstacles for media workers, there was a weakening of some of the barriers that obstruct

free reporting and expression in China.

 

“The challenge now is to make good on the gains for press

freedom during 2008, to maintain international scrutiny of media rights in China, and to continue to encourage China’s

government and authorities to embrace and act on the principles of press

freedom.”

 

China’s Olympic Challenge: Press Freedom in 2008 can be viewed in full in English,

traditional Chinese and simplified Chinese at the IFJ website at http://asiapacific.ifj.org/en/pages/open-and-free-towards-a-democratic-media-culture-in-china.

For printed copies, contact the IFJ Asia-Pacific

office.

 

The IFJ’s monitoring project for China will continue throughout

2009. Alerts and bulletins issued by the project are available at www.ifj.org.

 

For more information contact:

Serenade

Woo, Hong Kong: +852 – 914 591 45


IFJ Asia-Pacific: +61-2-9333-0919

 

The IFJ represents

over 600,000 journalists in 122 countries