The International Federation of Journalists
(IFJ) has written an open letter to the US
President, Barack Obama, urging him to use his upcoming dialogue with China’s President Hu Jintao to stress the social
significance of freedom of the media and to urge China’s highest authorities to
uphold these rights.
The letter refers President Obama to
Article 35 of China’s Constitution, which enshrines respect for freedom of the
press, and notes President Hu's repeated public statements that China will uphold the right of people in China to
freedom of the press and freedom of expression.
However, the letter notes that China’s central
and provincial propaganda departments have issued more than 200 restrictive
orders to the media this year, directing that media reports must be “positive”
or alternatively they are banned.
"During your visit to China, local
media will be required to relay only information approved and disseminated by
government authorities. There will not be free and independent reporting on
your visit by the local media," the letter from IFJ
Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park says.
The letter refers to the many journalists
and writers jailed in China
for the content of their writings, including Liu Xiaobo, Huang Qi, Shi Tao, Sun
Lin, Hu Jia and Tan Zuoran.
"Local and foreign journalists and
media workers, and their assistants, as well as bloggers, Charter 08
signatories and ordinary citizens continue to report harassment and
intimidation, assault and detention without explanation – all at the hands of
local authorities. Interview subjects report similar experiences," the
The IFJ seeks President Obama's support in
urging China’s ruling authorities to actively uphold press freedom and the
right to free expression for ordinary people in China, and to request that
President Hu and China’s most senior authorities release all prisoners of
conscience, including Liu Xiaobo, Huang Qi, Shi Tao, Hu Jia and Tan Zuoran.