China Enforces New Restrictions as Obama Speaks Out

The International Federation of

Journalists (IFJ) urges China’s

authorities to lift all restrictions on the media, after the Central Propaganda

Department issued new restrictions as US

President Barack Obama conducted a State visit.

 

The department ordered all media in China to run reports issued by the government

news agency, Xinhua, during Obama’s visit, while also ordering the deletion of

any news or other articles referring to questions raised at a forum at the

Shanghai Science and Technology

Museum, during which

Obama answered questions.

 

The department further forbade anyone

from organizing questions to be relayed over the internet and put to Obama during

a question and answer session at the museum yesterday.

 

The IFJ also understands that

Guangzhou-controlled cable television intercepted the broadcasting signal of

Asia Television of Hong Kong’s English Channel while Obama was answering a

question about restrictions on the internet in China.

 

“China’s

Constitution, in Article 35, refers to the right of China’s citizens to freedom of

expression,” IFJ General Secretary Aidan White

said. “China’s power-holders

must listen to the voice of the people and uphold and protect their rights in

accordance with China’s

Constitution.”

 

The department also ordered that any

media reports about protests or spontaneous news during Obama’s visit were not

to be published. 

 

A journalist told the IFJ that Zhao

Lianhai, whose baby suffered illness as a result of tainted milk powder, was

detained by Beijing

police on 13 November and charged with “provoking an

incident”.

 

Zhao is one of the key representatives

of parents whose children died or suffered illness in 2008 as a result of ingesting

milk powder contaminated with the industrial chemical melamine. Parents have

been urging the CentralGovernment to set up an inquiry and assess

compensation.

 

“We cannot write a word about this

case, though we wish to,” the journalist said.

 

In his comments at

the museum yesterday,

Obama said, “Freedom of expression and access to information and political

participation - we believe are universal rights. They should be available to

all people.”

 

Responding to a question

about Twitter that came via the internet despite the ban, Obama said, “I should

be honest, as President of the United States, there are times where I wish

information didn’t flow so freely because then I wouldn’t have to listen to

people criticising me all the time.”

 

The International Herald Tribune said he added, “Because in the United

States, information is free, and I have a lot of critics in the United States

who can say all kinds of things about me, I actually think that that makes our

democracy stronger and it makes me a better leader because it forces me to hear

opinions that I don’t want to hear.”

 

Correction

 

The original version of this

statement said Zhao represented parents whose children died in the Sichuan earthquake in

2008. This was incorrect.

 

 

For further

information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific

on +612 9333 0919

 

The IFJ

represents over 600,000 journalists in

120 countries worldwide