Restrictions On Journalists Reporting On Liu And Chen Cases in China

October 18, 2010


President Hu Jintao

Premier Wen Jiabao

Minister of Foreign Affairs Yang


Minister of Public Security Meng



of Justice Wu Aiying

Director of Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office

Wang Guangya


of Taiwan

Affairs Office Wang Yi





Restrictions on Journalists reporting on Liu and Chen cases



Dear Sirs, Madam,


The International

Federation of Journalists (IFJ) writes to you to express our deep concerns

about the serious restrictions placed on journalists and media workers operating

in China

whose activities are bound by the regulations for Foreign Correspondents.


Since October 8, the IFJ has received

a number of complaints from journalists covering news of Nobel Peace Prize

awardee, Liu Xiaobo. The complaints detail a series of acts of interference

from Chinese authorities, including: preventing journalists from interviewing

with Liu Xia, Liu’s wife; blocking journalists from interviewing all

representatives of various consulates in China; and forcing journalists to leave the

area near the Jinzhou

prison where Liu is held.


The IFJ has knowledge that Liu Xia was

willing to be interviewed, but was placed under a form of house arrest by plain

clothes police officers who denied her freedom to leave her home or have anyone visit

her. The IFJ also understands that her cell phone was illegally shut down.


This is the latest in a string of

incidents where individuals are prevented from making contact with the outside

world, either locally in China

or further afield. Chen Guangcheng, a blind activist defending women rights who

was charged with "damaging property and organising a mob to disturb

traffic” served his full sentence of four years and three months and was released on September

9, 2010. The IFJ is aware that since his release, Chen and his wife have been

denied contact with the outside world against their wishes. A number of

non-mainland journalists have been prevented by local authorities from

contacting Chen despite repeated attempts to do so. The couples’ telephones

were shut down and they are now under house arrest.


According to Article 17 of Regulations of the PRC Concerning Reporting

Activities of Permanent Offices of Foreign Media Organizations and Foreign

Journalists, Article 6 of Regulations

for Hong Kong and Macau Journalists and Article 7 of Regulations for Taiwan Journalists, it clearly states that when

seeking to interview individuals in China, journalists and media workers are

required only to obtain the prior consent of the interviewee.


The IFJ respectfully asserts that the

refusal by authorities to allow media to report undermines the spirit and

letter of the regulations. It is a violation of these rules to prevent people from

being interviewed by the press after the individuals concerned have consented

to be interviewed.


Furthermore, we also understand that

all local media organisations were ordered by Foreign

and Central Propaganda departments not to report the news relevant to the Liu

Xiaobo case.

Premier Wen Jiabao accepted an interview from CNN on October 3, but the

departments ordered that this was not to be reported until more than a week

later, on October 11. These orders constitute a breach of Article 35 of the

Chinese Constitution which enshrines freedom of the press.  


The IFJ welcomes Premier Wen Jiabao’s

repeated endorsements of the media’s key role in overseeing the activities of

public administration, particularly in his public speech in the Third Session

of the 11th National

People’s Congress in Beijing

on March 5, 2010.


“The transformation of government

functions is incomplete, there is too much government interference in the

micro-economy, and public administration and services are relatively weak,” Wen

said in the speech. “Let the news media fully play their oversight role.”


However, the IFJ remains concerned

that there is a significant gap between these words and the operations of China’s

authorities on a day to day basis. The open letter penned by a number of

ex-officials including Li Rui, the former secretary of

Mao Zedong and Zhong Peizhang, former news bureau chief of the Central

Propaganda Department on October 1 calls for media censorship to be abolished on

the basis that it is unconstitutional. The IFJ Asia-Pacific

respectfully offers its expertise and advice to assist China’s authorities in any way to ensure that

the sentiments from Premier Wen are given greatest effect in China and its autonomous regions.


We sincerely urge President Hu

Jintao, Premier Wen Jiabao, Minister of Foreign Affairs Yang Jiechi and Minister

of Public Security Meng Jianzh cease media censorship, investigate government

interference in media rights infringements, and do their utmost to ensure that

any interference that breaches the regulations of China is abandoned.


Furthermore, we urge President Hu

Jintao, Premier Wen Jiabao, Minister of Foreign Affairs Yang Jiechi, Minister

of Public Security, Minister of Justice, Director of Hong Kong and Macao

Affairs, and Director of Taiwan Affairs to investigate those who breached regulations

by illegally detaining civilians Liu Xia and Chen Guangcheng and let them to

resume their constitutional rights of freedom of movement and freedom of expression. 


Yours Sincerely,


Aidan White

General Secretary


Federation of Journalists



For further

information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific

on +612 9333 0919



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