As China holds its annual political meetings, the media has come under intense scrutiny, with two journalists having their press accreditation for the meetings revoked.
On March 13, Zhang Huijun, the operating director of LA-based American Multimedia Television USA put several questions to Xiao Yaqinge, the Director of the State-Owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission during a press conference. During the questions, Liang Xiangyi, a journalist with Yicai financial news outlet from Shanghai was filmed rolling her eyes and making several facial expressions. The footage was captured by CCTV and immediately broadcast, including online. The footage sparked debate online, with some accusing Liang of not respecting the event, while other welcomed her expressions.
Social media was flooded with posts and memes of the eye-rolling footage, but the Chinese ‘censors’ quickly sprang the action, and according to several reports the authorities had warned Chinese journalists to ‘close their eyes to the eye roll’. In a directive issued to the media, it said: “Urgent notice: all media personnel are prohibited from discussing the Two Sessions blue-clothed reporter incident on social media. Anything already posted must be deleted. Without exception, websites must not hype the episode.”
Many social media users also highlighted the link between Zhang’s employer American Multimedia Television USA and the Chinese state broadcaster. Also highlighted was the boss of American Multimedia Television, Jason Quin, who also lists himself as the President of the Confucius Institute of Education. The links were pointed out, as media outlets with ties to the Chinese government are often the ones chosen to ask questions at the National People’s Congress.
The following day, the office organising the National Congress issued a notice that it was revoking the press accreditation to both Zhang and Liang to enter the City Hall.
The IFJ Asia Pacific Office said: “The actions by the organising committee to revoke the press accreditation of two journalists due to a response on social media, is a complete overreaction and shows the excessive measures that the government will go to maintain its orchestrated message and control over information.”
The IFJ calls on the All China Journalists Association to investigate the circumstances around the revoked accreditation, and fight for the rights of journalists.
For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0946
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