Chinese government crackdown continues: Media outlets threatened

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) voices concerns over the continuing crackdown for dissent and freedom of expression in China, following threats to four media outlets and the disappearance of a vocal veteran member of the Communist Party in recent days.On April 28, Zi Su, a veteran member of the Communist Party of China posted an open letter urging the Communist Party to implement a direct democratic election internally at the upcoming 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China. However after the letter was reported, Zi was reportedly ‘disconnected’ his friends.In the open letter, Zi said that Chinese president Xi Jinping did a great job fighting against corruption in comparison to his predecessor, however he mentioned that Xi had made a number of errors, including upholding personal worship, centralising all powers and his stance against constitutional and democractic reform. Zi also referred to Xi’s record of suppressing human rights defenders and dissesndents and the increasing control on freedom of speech. Zi went on to say that reflecting on public comments, Xi should not run as the general secretary of the Communist Party at the upcoming Congress, instead recommending that Hu Deping become the successor to Xi as he is more inclined to democratic reform for China.Two days later, Mainland website, Literature Network, reported that Zi had been taken away by security agents following the letter’s publication online.Following the disappearance of Zi, on April 29, the Cyberspace Administration Bureau in Heilongjiang issued a notice to four media outlets over their WeChat accounts, which published articles which violated seven clauses in the Propaganda Department’s Direction. The notice said that the articles which violated the Direction, but did not provide a copy of the Direction. The notice said that should they violate the Direction again the accounts will be suspended.Since Xi Jinping became president of China, an increasing number of people, including activists and dissidents have disappeared, while threats and intimidation of media outlets have become common practice. The Xi government established the Cyberspace Administration Bureau, which has become the government body responsible for strangling the media. As a result, self-censorship has become a common practice for journalists and media workers in China, under pinned by the increasing number of restrictive orders published by the government.The IFJ Asia Pacific office said: “The continued efforts by the Chinese government to control dissent and stifle freedom of expression highlights the challenging environment that China’s media workers operate within. Self censorship is becoming a mode of survival for the country’s media, ultimately weaken any form of press freedom that remains. These actions are having devastating implications for the Chinese people’s right to access to information.”We urge President Xi to listen to the people’s voice and respect their rights under the Chinese Constitution of China to lift up all the restrictive mechanisms against the media and implement a democratic political reform in the coming 19th National Congress.We also urge Guo Shengkun, Minister of Public Security to investigate the disappearance of Zi and free Zi immediately.      

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