The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is deeply concerned that two journalists were detained by Shenzhen police on May 30 for allegedly operating a publication illegally. They are the sixth and seventh journalist to be detained in Mainland China this year.
Wai Zhongxiao, 39, and Wang Jiaomin, aged about 50, reportedly have Hong Kong residency and a US green card respectively. Both are former journalists with Asia Weekly Magazine in Hong Kong. In the past four years, they have been working for two political and social affairs magazines, namely Xin Wei Monthly Magazine and Face Magazine.
According to various reports, Shenzhen police announced via microblog that two Hong Kong people were detained on May 30 on suspicions of being involved in the crime of illegal publishing operations. Although the police announcement did not include the names and any further information, a number of journalists confirmed that they were Wai and Wang.
The magazines are understood to have been established for between two and four years. They focus on reporting the internal affairs of the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party. Due to printing costs, the magazines are printed in Shenzhen.
The IFJ Asia Pacific Office said: “It is outrageous that seven journalists have been detained by the Chinese authorities on a variety of accusations this year. The Chinese people cannot exercise their right of free speech under Article 35 of the Chinese Constitution when what they say is deemed unacceptable by the authorities.”
Prominent independent journalist Gao Yu was detained and charged by the authorities with publishing state secrets on an overseas website and magazine. Xiang Nanfu, a citizen journalist for US-based boxun.com, was charged with “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” in relation to a number of allegedly false reports. Xin Jian, a Chinese news assistant for Nikkei Inc, was detained and charged by Chongqing police with picking quarrels and provoking trouble. Vivian Wu, former journalist who is currently working for Internews, is believed to be still held in detention by Beijing police without confirmation of her whereabouts or any reason being given.
A Hong Kong publisher, Yao Wentian, also known as Yiu Man-tin, was recently sentenced to 10 years in jail for “smuggling ordinary goods” into Shenzhen.
“It is surprising that under the governance of One Country Two Systems, the Government of the Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong has not spoken up or provided legal assistance to the Hong Kong people who are detained on the Mainland,” the IFJ Asia Pacific Office said.
We urge all journalists of Hong Kong and Mainland China to try their utmost to defend their rights to report, and demand that the authorities provide evidence to prove that the people detained actually violated the law.
We urge the Human Rights Council of the United Nations to demand an explanation from the Chinese delegates as to why a number of media workers in Mainland China have been detained and sentenced in the past two months.