Government media crackdown in China continues as a journalist disappears

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) raises serious concerns over actions by the Chinese government this week, which lead to one journalist been suspended from duty and a second disappearing while travelling. The IFJ calls on the Chinese government to end its control over the media and dissent across the country.

On March 13, Li Kai, the editor of Xinhua was suspended following the publication of an article which said that President Xi was the ‘last leader of China’ instead of the ‘highest leader of China’. On March 16, The Strait Times, a Singapore-based outlet reported that Li was suspended from his role and cancelled his application to become a member of the Community Party. The report also said that senior management of Xinhua decided it was a ‘political mistake’, however they believe that Li had made a typing error.

On March 16, Gu Jia, a current member of the journalism faculty with Sun Tau University in Guangzhou and former editor of Hong Kong-based Initium Media, was allegedly detained by authorities as he tried to travel from Beijing to Hong Kong. According to an Apple Daily report, Gu was last heard from at 8pm, when he called his wife telling her he had just cleared customs and was waiting to board the flight. He was due to arrive in Hong Kong at 11.30pm but never arrived. Gu’s friends wrote on social media that they feared he might be in police custody.

Prior to his disappearance, Gu has raised his own concerns that he was beeing monitored by police and would be detained. Gu believed he was monitored following the publication of an open letter on Watching.cn, which called for President Xi’s resignation. Gu had told OuYang Hongliang, a former colleague of Gu’s and CEO of Watching.cn, about the letter as soon as he had seen it online. 

According to The Guardian, just three days before his disappearance, Gu Jia tweeted “Literature must intervene in politics until politics doesn’t intervene in literature any more. “The arts must intervene in politics until politics doesn’t intervene in the arts any more. Journalism must intervene in politics until politics doesn’t intervene in journalism any more.”  

The IFJ Asia Pacific Office said: “Recent incidents, including the suspension of Li and disappearance of Gu, shows how the Chinese government continues to tighten its grip on the media and suppress press freedom. We demand the government release information regarding the whereabouts of Gu Jia.”

“Media workers across China are constantly living in fear of losing their jobs, creating an unstable working environment.”

For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0946 

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 139 countries

Find the IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific

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