IFJ Report Lists China’s Secret Bans on Media Reporting

 

 

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

2009.

 

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

China.

 

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

White said.

 

“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

profession.”

 

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

media.

 

“The IFJ

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:

http://asiapacific.ifj.org/en/pages/ifj-asia-pacific-reports

 

 

 

 

For media

inquiries: Contact Serenade Woo at

+852-9145-9145

 

 

Media-Related

Orders in China,

2009

 

From: China Clings to Control: Press Freedom in

2009

 

The number on

each item indicates the date the order was issued.

 

January

2009

 

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. 

 

February

2009

 

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

in 2005.  

 

223: Media must be

reminded that reporting spontaneous news from other provinces is

prohibited.

 

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.

 

March

2009

 

Date

unknown:Media must not report on the election of Macau Chief

Executive.

 

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

Ltd.

 

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

were killed. 

 

April

2009

 

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.

     

May

2009

 

Date

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

China.

 

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

immediately.

 

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

officials.

 

530: Media must not

report on pollution in Jiaozuo, Henan.

 

June

2009

 

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

Zongheng. 

 

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

project.

 

619:Media must report the Iran election in a

low-key fashion without commentary. Do not place

prominently.

 

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

prominently.

 

628:Xinhua News Agency and Southern.cn will

report the cause of the Shaoguan incident. Other media must not republish this

information.

 

629: Only Southern.cn

website in Shaoguan is permitted to report the investigation report of the

Shaoguan conflict. Other media must not republish this

information.

 

July

2009

 

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

Department.

 

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.

 

August

 

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

information. 

 

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

state-owned company.    

 

828:Media must not report on organ transplants

at Sun

Yatsen University.

 

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

Konkan. 

 

831:Media must use official information to

report about the arrival of Burmese refugees to Yunan. All journalists must

leave Yunan. 

 

September

 

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

Taiwan.

 

October

 

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.

 

Date

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

October 1.  

 

November

 

Date

unknown: Media must not

report about elections of the Legislative Council and Chief Executive of

Hong Kong.

 

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

Technology

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. 

 

Date

unknown: Only the magazine of

Southern Metropolis enterprise is allowed to report interviews with Obama. Other

media must not republish these interviews.

 

For

further information contact IFJ

Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919

 

The IFJ

represents over 600,000 journalists in 125 countries

worldwide