China's List of Bans on Media Reporting Keeps Growing

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) calls on China’s Government to explain why reporting on the forced closure of a research centre and human rights organisation was banned on July 17.


A journalist told the IFJ they received the ban order on July 17. The order stated that no media was permitted to publish any information about the closure of Gongmeng Legal Research Centre, also known as the Open Constitution Initiative, by the Civil Affairs Bureau of Beijing.


The centre, run mainly by human rights lawyers, had been providing legal support to minority groups in China, most famously during the 2008 tainted milk powder scandal. Officers reportedly searched the centre’s premises and seized documents and computers, reportedly on the basis of an alleged tax error.


Dr Xu Zhiyong, a legal representative for the centre, said the bureau had no legal right to force the closure of the organisation or impose a penalty of 1.42 million yuan (about USD 210,000) for the alleged mistake.


“Banning media coverage of a story that has great public interest and involves the work of government bureaus is contrary to encouraging greater freedoms of expression, association and of the press in an open and transparent society,” IFJ General Secretary Aidan White said.


In a separate incident on July 18, a popular intellectual website called Tian Yi forum,, was shut down by authorities without explanation.


On July 17, two other websites, and, were reportedly ordered to delete news reports about the suspicious death in hospital of a woman in Mawei District, Fujian Province. The reports were alleged to contravene official bans on media reporting of certain issues.


“China has yet to prove that it will allow and encourage its media to act as a watchdog for the public good. Government-instigated tailoring of online news content amounts to propaganda and repression of free expression,” White said.


For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919


The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries worldwide