A new report by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) on
press freedom in China highlights the battle by local
censors to control media commentary on a wide range of topics throughout in
Banned topics range from events
associated with social unrest and public protests against authorities, to
reports of photos of an actress topless on a Caribbean beach.
The report, China Clings to Control: Press Freedom in 2009,
was officially released by the IFJ at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of
Hong Kong yesterday 31 January.
It presents data gathered by IFJ
media rights monitoring in China, detailing the intensifying efforts of
authorities since early 2009 to control online content and commentary, and
assessing the official restrictions and range of impediments faced by local and
foreign media working in Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.
Amid the controversy over Google’s
recently stated refusal to censor the contents of its Chinese-language search
engine, following allegations that China’s authorities had authorised a cyber
attack on Google’s US-based systems, and gmail accounts held by activists in
China had been breached, China Clings to
Control: Press Freedom in 2009 presents the wider context of
restrictions confronting journalists and media in
In calling on China
to investigate Google’s allegations, United States Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton says US companies need to take a “principled stand” against censorship.
“The IFJ fully endorses Mrs
Clinton’s comments,” IFJ General Secretary Aidan
“We further call on the
international community to take a principled stand to oppose all forms of
restrictions on the rights of journalists to do their work in China, including
the steady stream of official bans as well as new rules in 2009 which make it
virtually impossible for local journalists who work in traditional or online
media to receive the accreditation they need in order to conduct their
The IFJ report details 62 bans
issued from January to November 2009, among hundreds of regulations issued by
central and provincial authorities in the past year.
Compiled with the assistance of Chinese Human
Rights Defenders (CHRD), the list below is not complete because of difficulties in obtaining information in
China about instructions to the
list indicates that much as China’s
censors are maintaining a vigilant eye, they are also struggling to maintain a
grip on information dissemination,” White said.
The IFJ report is available in English, Simplified and Traditional Chinese at:
inquiries: Contact Serenade Woo at
Orders in China,
From: China Clings to Control: Press Freedom in
The number on
each item indicates the date the order was issued.
105: Media must not
report on the reformation of fuel tax.
110: Media must cease
reporting on the discovery of a body at a psychiatric hospital in Dongguan.
122: Media must use
Xinhua News Agency reports about the court verdict in the Sanlu tainted milk
powder case. No commentary or investigative reporting permitted.
130: Media must not
report on photos of actress Zhang Ziyi topless on a Caribbean beach.
211: Media must not be
sent to report on the earthquake zone in Sichuan province.
220: Media including
internet-based outlets must not republish a February 17 report on a company
found guilty of defaming a reporter who reported a miscarriage of justice case
223: Media must be
reminded that reporting spontaneous news from other provinces is
224: Media must not be
sent to Shanxi
province to cover a gas explosion.
228: Media must not be
sent to Shandong or Henan provinces to cover
a foot-and-mouth disease outbreak.
unknown:Media must not report on the election of Macau Chief
306: Media must not
report on the sacking of former Communist Party chief and deputy director of the
Shenzhen Maritime Safety Administration, Lin Jiaxiang, who was sacked for
alleged drunken behaviour and child molestation.
307: Media must not
report on comments by members of the National People’s Congress about a possible
ban by China on poultry
imports from the US.
309: Media must not
report on a decision by the Supreme People’s Court to review a four-year-old
plagiarism case against Wuhan University law professor Zhou Yezhong.
313: The 21st Century Business Herald must remove an article about financial dealings between tycoon Wang Guoju and
Hong Kong-listed company China Energy Development Holdings
318: Media must not
report on the failure of a team led by Liaoning Governor to attract investments
by overseas entrepreneurs in China.
324: Media must use
official information to report on the fatal shooting of a guard in front of an
army station branch in Chongqing.
325: Media must use
official information to report on the signing of an oil channel agreement
between China and Burma.
No reporting on the background of the agreement or feature writing permitted.
327:Media must not report on a lawsuit against
China Eastern Airline by victims of a plane crash in 2004 in which 53 passengers
410: Media must not
report on the welfare, injury or death of prison inmates unless the information
is sourced from the Prison Bureau.
413:The State Administrative of Radio Film and
Television prohibits entertainment programs from publishing or discussing
celebrity love affairs or scandalous material.
414: All media including
internet-based outlets must report positively on a book called China Unhappy. No commentary or billboard
rankings about the book allowed.
417: Media must cease
reporting on the connection between a high incidence of miscarriages in pregnant
women in Dujiangyan City and formaldehyde exposure.
419:Media must not report on issues related to
the parents of children killed during the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. Media must only report the
list of victims announced by officials. Media must not conduct independent
investigative reporting about the number of victims. Media must not publish
subjective conclusions about the reasons why buildings collapsed during the
earthquake. Media must use official information about the reconstruction of the
quake zone. Problems during the reconstruction must be reported to the
authorities and must not be published.
420:Media must not report on a dispute
relating to a cross-province railway extension between Shanghai and Yunnan.
422: Media must cease
reporting on the suicide of propaganda department vice director in Beichuan, Sichuan.
428: Media must report
positively on the reform of the Health Medical Policy of the Health Department.
Media should only interview experts recommended by the authorities and should be
careful of other experts’ comments.
unknown: Media must not
report on former Premier Zhao Ziyang’s memoirs.
502: Media must not
publish commentary about the May Fourth Movement.
507: Media must use
Foreign Ministry information about the interception by the US navy
of a Chinese fishing vessel. Media must not publish commentary or use
information sourced from overseas.
522: Media must use
Xinhua News Agency information and reports about a visit by US senators to
525: Media must use
Xinhua News Agency information to report on nuclear testing in North
Korea. Articles about the issue should not be
placed in a prominent place.
526: Media must not
report on a murder case in Badong. All journalists should leave Badong
529: Media must not be
sent to Badong. Media must use Xinhua News Agency information about the Badong
case. Media must not report on conflict between journalists and local government
530: Media must not
report on pollution in Jiaozuo, Henan.
608:Media must only use information from the
Xinhua News Agency website, the China
Daily and CCTV to report on investigations of Shenzhen Mayor Xu
610:Media must report positively on the Green
Dam project. Media can organise interviews with some experts and parents about
filters for pornographic material under this project. No commentary allowed.
Website management must delete all critical articles about the
619:Media must report the Iran election in a
low-key fashion without commentary. Do not place
626:Media must use official information to
report on an ethnic-based violent incident in Shaoguan. Media must not be sent
to Shaoguan to report on the incident.
627: Media must not be
sent to Shaoguan. Any articles written must be low-key and not placed
628:Xinhua News Agency and Southern.cn will
report the cause of the Shaoguan incident. Other media must not republish this
629: Only Southern.cn
website in Shaoguan is permitted to report the investigation report of the
Shaoguan conflict. Other media must not republish this
706:Media must use only Xinhua News Agency
information to report on riots in Xinjiang and Shaoguan. No journalist should be
sent to Xinjiang.
708:Media must not report on a lawsuit brought
by an academic against a Xinnet.com website.
711:Media must only report the number of
people killed in Xinjiang. Media must not report on the cause of the
ethnic-based conflict. Media must use Xinhua News Agency information only or
will face punishment from the Central Propaganda
715:Media must use only Xinhua News Agency
information about the cause of train collision in Zhenzhou, Hunan Province, on June 29.
721:Media must not report on corruption
allegations relating to the eldest son of President Hu Jintao.
728:Media must use Xinhua News Agency
information to report on the death of a factory general manager in Jilin after a protest by
factory employees. Media must not be sent to Jilin and all journalists must be instructed
to leave the vicinity.
805:Xinhua News Agency website will report on
the investigation into the secretary of the Communist Party of China National
Nuclear Corporation. Other media must not republish or broadcast this
814:Media must not report on issues related to
Gongmeng Legal Research Centre legal representative Dr Xu Zhiyong.
815:Media must not report any unconfirmed
information about terrorist organisations’ attack on China
in relation to the Xinjiang riots. Media must not republish China Daily’s report about 200 Xinjiang
riot suspects pending to trial.
820:Articles about conflict between
Russia and China
in relation to business must be censored before publication. Media must reduce
the number of articles about this case.
825: Media must delay
reporting about alleged bribery between the US-based CII company and a
828:Media must not report on organ transplants
830: Media must use
Xinhua News Agency information to report on the arrival of up to 30,000 Burmese
refugees in Konkan in south-western Yunan province. All reporters must leave
831:Media must use official information to
report about the arrival of Burmese refugees to Yunan. All journalists must
Date unknown: Media must not report
on a riot of more than 10,000 villagers in Fengwei town, Quanzhou, Fujian, which was sparked by industrial
contamination of drinking water.
Date unknown: Media must use Xinhua
News Agency information about the visit by Tibet spiritual leader the Dalai Lama to
Date unknown: More than 10 orders
were made: some orders prohibited the media from reporting at Tiananmen Square and other public venues in the lead-up to
National Day on October 1.
unknown: Media must delete
all images of President Hu in front of a billboard advertising the Japan-based
company Toshiba during China’s National Day Parade on
unknown: Media must not
report about elections of the Legislative Council and Chief Executive of
1116:Media must use Xinhua News Agency
information to report on US
President Obama’s visit to China. Media must delete any news or
other articles referring to questions at a forum at the Shanghai Science and
Museum. Journalists are
forbidden from organising questions to be relayed over the internet and put to
Obama. Media must not report on or publish reports of protests or spontaneous
news during Obama’s visit.
unknown: Only the magazine of
Southern Metropolis enterprise is allowed to report interviews with Obama. Other
media must not republish these interviews.
further information contact IFJ
Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919
represents over 600,000 journalists in 125 countries