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.
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
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media reports about protests or spontaneous news during Obama’s visit were not
to be published.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
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
“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
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.”
The original version of this
statement said Zhao represented parents whose children died in the Sichuan earthquake in
2008. This was incorrect.
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