China

2012


Blog   |   China, Internet

China's name registration will only aid cybercriminals

China's new Communist Party leaders are increasing already tight controls on Internet use. (AP/Alexander F. Yuan)

China's mounting crackdown on online news dissemination took an extra step today, when the country's Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, its de facto legislative body, announced new requirements on Internet service providers and mobile phone companies to identify their users. The new rules would potentially allow ISPs and the authorities to more closely tie real identities to posts and commentary on micro-blogging sites like Weibo, as well as connect text messaging and mobile phone conversations to individuals.

December 28, 2012 5:24 PM ET

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Blog   |   China, Taiwan

Taiwanese media sale could threaten press freedom

In this image made on April 27, rival Taiwan newspapers Apple Daily, top, and The China Times, bottom, are seen depicting their owners in a fight to control key Taiwan media outlets. (AP)

A media buyout in Taiwan which would put independent news outlets critical of China into the hands of a pro-Beijing media tycoon is cause for concern for the island's press. Jimmy Lai, the outspoken mogul behind Hong Kong-based Next Media and the Apple Daily tabloid, is selling his Taiwan holdings to a group of businessmen that includes Tsai Eng-meng, whose China Times Media group is supportive of China, according to local and international news reports.

Blog   |   China, Kyrgyzstan

Nearly 20,000 call to free Kyrgyz, Tibetan journalists

CPJ is petitioning for release of Tibetan Dhondup Wangchen from Chinese jail. (Michael Nagle/Getty Images for CPJ)

"I remain hopeful that I will one day see the sun once more--not through the barred window of my prison cell but as a free man." -Azimjon Askarov

Today, on International Human Rights Day, CPJ and close to 20,000 supporters are calling on the governments of China and Kyrgyzstan to release two journalists imprisoned for reporting on minorities' grievances and human rights violations.

Blog   |   China

Confusion grows around missing Tibetan monk filmmaker

Tibetans protest in Rongwo township in western China's Qinghai province November 9, calling for freedom from Chinese rule. (AP)

Not unusually, an already confusing situation in Tibet just got worse. Twenty-seven Tibetans have self-immolated in protest against Chinese this month alone, according to Human Rights Watch. That's almost one a day. Against this chaotic backdrop, Chinese authorities have issued an arrest order for a missing monk who helped film a 2008 documentary about life in Tibet, according to his film company, Filming for Tibet.

CPJ supporters will know that we just honored self-taught Tibetan filmmaker Dhondup Wangchen with an International Press Freedom Award, recognizing his courage documenting life under Chinese rule with full knowledge that he would face severe repercussions (he is serving a six-year jail term--you can join our petition for his release here). So we've been following with concern the latest reports that his assistant on that project, the monk Jigme Gyatso, has been missing, reportedly detained, since September.

Blog   |   Brazil, China, Kyrgyzstan, Liberia, UK

Awardees say indignation trumps intimidation

Mauri König (Michael Nagle/Getty Images for CPJ)

The battle for a free press sometimes feels like a war between indignation and intimidation. Journalists learn of abuses of power, crime, or corruption, and--indignant--they speak out. In response, the perpetrators of those abuses--be they government officials or criminals--try to intimidate the journalists into silence with threats, lawsuits, jail, or even murder. Last night, the Committee to Protect Journalists paid tribute to a handful of journalists for whom indignation is a driving force, no matter the scale of intimidation.

Blog   |   China

What China's new leadership means for press freedom

A mall's screen shows new Chinese Communist Party leader Xi Jinping in Beijing Thursday. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

Like many China watchers, we at CPJ have been struggling to interpret obscure floor markings and tie colors on display in Beijing as new Communist Party leaders were appointed in a rare leadership hand-off today. The names of the top seven are no longer in doubt. But the real question everyone's asking is: What does it mean (for press freedom)? 

Blog   |   China

In China, kids ask the tough questions at Party Congress

Eleven-year-old Zhang Jiahe asks a question during the 18th National Party Congress (NPC) in Beijing. (Reuters/Carlos Barria)

When a nation's most outspoken journalists are 11-year-olds, is it a good sign for the future? On the one hand, they might grow up to ask probing questions. On the other hand, they might end up following the path taken by their older peers and stick to scripted exchanges.

November 13, 2012 2:18 PM ET

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Alerts   |   China

China obstructs, censors foreign media before congress

International journalists were obstructed from covering this protest in the city of Ningbo today. (AFP/Peter Parks)

New York, October 29, 2012--Officials from China's Communist Party should stop censoring and obstructing foreign journalists in the lead-up to the Party Congress scheduled for November 8, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Information security is notoriously tight before the five-yearly congress, which is expected to usher in high-level leadership change in 2012.

Alerts   |   China

Chinese Internet writer detained after posting on Diaoyu

Jiao Guobiao was detained last week in connection with articles he published on the Diaoyo Islands. (Reuters/Richard Chung)

New York, September 18, 2012--Chinese authorities should release a well-known academic and Internet writer detained last week in connection with his published articles, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Jiao Guobiao has been targeted in the past for his articles criticizing the Chinese government.

Blog   |   China

China's Xi Jinping unseen, unsearchable

Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping has not been seen in public since Sept. 1. (Reuters/How Hwee Young)

It was only a matter of time before Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping's physical absence from the public view was accompanied by his disappearance from cyberspace. The characters "Jinping" from his name were censored today from searches of Sina's microblog service Weibo, according to the Fei Chang Dao blog. Where else but China does a deficiency of information about a nonappearance become a story worth deleting?

So is there a story or isn't there? International news reports say that Xi, President Hu Jintao's expected successor, has not been seen in public since Sept. 1, and missed a Sept.  5 meeting scheduled with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. That was either a snub, a swimming injury, a stroke, or an assassination attempt, depending on who you talk to. Xi has missed other appointments too, though the full extent of his truancy remains unclear. 

September 12, 2012 7:08 PM ET

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Blog   |   China, Denmark, Germany, USA

Thorning's chance to press China for media freedom

Denmark's Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt is in China this week to meet with top leaders, according to international news reports. CPJ's Advocacy and Communications Associate Magnus Ag and Senior Asia Program Researcher Madeline Earp co-wrote an op-ed calling on Thorning--as she is called in the Danish press--to raise the issue of press freedom. An edited version ran in the Danish newspaper Politiken today.

Speaking truthfully to China on its repression of human rights can be a tricky endeavor in diplomatic affairs, but Helle Thorning-Schmidt has a prime opportunity to raise press freedom on her trip to China. Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did not give the issue public priority during their visits earlier this month, but as Thorning meets with top Communist Party leaders and addresses a World Economic Forum meeting in Tianjin, the opportunity must not be wasted.

Alerts   |   China, USA

Clinton must speak up for international press in China

Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jieche greets U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Beijing. (AFP/Jim Watson)

New York, September 4, 2012--U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton should press Chinese officials in meetings this week to allow international journalists based in China greater access to news events and fewer restrictions of their coverage, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. 

Blog   |   China

As Wang is freed, Chinese journalist Shi Tao still held

A protester holds a poster depicting jailed journalist Shi Tao. (AP/Miguel Villagran)

Chinese dissident Wang Xiaoning was released today after serving a 10-year prison term on charges of "incitement to subvert state power," a case built in good part on client information supplied by Yahoo. Wang had used his Yahoo email account and the discussion forum Yahoo Groups to spread ideas the government deemed dangerous. His case closely parallels that of journalist Shi Tao, another Yahoo user who fell afoul of the Chinese government. In 2005, Shi was convicted of "illegally leaking state secrets abroad" and given a 10-year sentence. Yahoo had helped authorities identify Shi through his account information.

Blog   |   Burma, China, Japan

Yamamoto's death reflects Japan's media reach, duty

Japanese reporter Mika Yamamoto was killed after being caught in gunfire in Aleppo, Syria. (AFP/NHK News)

My colleagues and I were saddened to learn of the death of Mika Yamamoto, a Japan Press video and photo journalist who was killed while covering clashes in Aleppo, Syria, on Monday. The moment was all the more poignant because of the similarities with two other Japanese journalist fatalities: Kenji Nagai of APF News in Burma in 2007 and Hiro Muramoto of Reuters in Thailand in 2010. As with Yamamoto, Nagai and Muramoto were photojournalists covering conflict between anti-government elements and government troops in foreign countries.

Blog   |   China, Japan

Japan releases Chinese journalists--China's up next

Chinese activists are escorted as they disembark from a Japan Coast Guard patrol ship. (Reuters/Kyodo)

It's not often we at CPJ find ourselves calling on other countries to release Chinese journalists from detention. But that's just what happened yesterday. Hong Kong-based Phoenix TV contacted us to say that two of their journalists were among a group of 14 arrested by Japanese authorities over a disputed territory in the East China Sea. For once, we found ourselves in accordance with Chinese authorities, who called for the "unconditional and immediate release" of all 14, according to Reuters

August 17, 2012 2:11 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

Umbrellas cast shadow over 'open' trial in China

A spectator is surrounded by journalists Thursday after exiting the Hefei City Intermediate People's Court where the trial of Gu Kailai for murder takes place. (AP/Eugene Hoshiko)

We cover all kinds of censorship here at CPJ. Recently we documented the cunning application of scissors to prevent readers from accessing China-related articles in hard copy magazines. But it's been a while since we've had chance to write about one favored implement of information control in China: the umbrella. 

August 9, 2012 3:44 PM ET

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Blog   |   China, UK

Viewing the London Olympics coverage from China

Chinese propaganda officials must be thrilled that they're not responsible for the Olympics coverage in the British papers. Back during the Beijing Games, they worked hard to censor unrest and dissatisfaction in the domestic media. Reports of China's press freedom and human rights abuses were blocked, the kind of information control idiomatically referred to as "harmonizing."

July 27, 2012 2:09 PM ET

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Blog   |   Bahrain, China, Internet, UK

For journalists, danger lurking in your email

A protester in Jidhafs, Bahrain. (AP/Hasan Jamali)

This week, Morgan Marquis-Boire and Bill Marczak of the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab provided a disturbing look into the likely use of a commercial surveillance program, FinFisher, to remotely invade and control the computers of Bahraini activists. After the software installs itself onto unsuspecting users' computer, it can record and relay emails, screenshots, and Skype audio conversations. It was deployed against Bahraini users after being concealed in seemingly innocent emails.

Blog   |   China

Propaganda officials miss the boat on 'China's Katrina'

Severe flooding in parts of China has left numerous dead and missing. (Reuters)

Chinese journalists are questioning government propaganda due to conflicting reports of the death toll following Saturday's devastating flooding in Beijing. Like the Wenzhou train crash and the Sichuan earthquake, the tragedy has galvanized mainstream and online journalists--and the official narrative is crumbling under their scrutiny.

July 26, 2012 4:59 PM ET

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Alerts   |   China

A year after Wenzhou, China still censoring disaster stories

Rescuers evacuate a Chinese woman from her home. (AFP)

New York, July 24, 2012--A year after drawing public ire for censoring coverage of a high-speed train crash, Chinese authorities should allow journalists to freely cover the aftermath of Saturday's deadly flooding in and around the capital, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. International news accounts said 37 people died in Beijing and up to 100 people nationwide.

July 24, 2012 1:35 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

China's diverse censors

Attempts to rein in microblogs like Sina Weibo are a huge part of China's sophisticated information control strategy these days. However, news reports last week serve as a reminder that propaganda authorities also rely on methods that are more old school. 

Blog   |   China

Shallow victory for China's journalists, protesters

A police officer stands guard as protesters gather in the city of Shifang. (Reuters/Petar Kujundzic)

Shi Junrong, Xi'an Evening News bureau chief in the city of Wei'an, ran into trouble recently after he reported on the costly brand of luxury cigarettes favored by local officials. He announced on his microblog that the paper suspended him soon after, according to the U.S. government-funded Radio Free Asia.

July 5, 2012 1:51 PM ET

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Blog   |   China, UK, USA

The New York Times takes on China's censors

Well, that didn't take long. Just days after The New York Times' soft launch of its Chinese-language edition and accompanying microblog accounts, Berkeley-based China Digital Times website reports that the @nytchinese Sina Weibo feed is no longer accessible in China, along with two accounts hosted by Netease and Sohu. We couldn't pull them up this morning from New York, either.

Blog   |   China, USA

Don't punish Chinese restrictions with more restrictions

The Committee to Protect Journalists is watching with concern the progress of H.R. 2899, the Chinese Media Reciprocity Act of 2011, which is under discussion Wednesday in front of the Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement. The bill seeks to reduce the number of visas available to journalists (and their families) working in the United States for 13 Chinese state-controlled publications. The aim is to pressure Beijing into allowing more Voice of America reporters into China; VOA staffers tell us that they are allowed only two China visas to cover a country of more than 1.3 billion people.

Blog   |   China, Internet, Iran, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory, USA

State-sponsored attacks: open season on online journalists

The last few weeks have offered the strongest indications yet that nation-states are using customized software to exploit security flaws on personal computers and consumer Internet services to spy on their users. The countries suspected include the United States, Israel, and China. Journalists should pay attention--not only because this is a growing story, but because if anyone is a vulnerable target, it's reporters.

Blog   |   China

23 years after Tiananmen, China is still paying

A police officer patrols as part of heavy security at Tiananmen Square in Beijing. (AFP/Mark Ralston)

The annual crackdown on commemorations of the June 4 anniversary of the brutal suppression of student-led demonstrations based in Tiananmen Square in 1989 Beijing is under way, according to Agence France-Presse. What's concerning is the number of writers and activists for whom "crackdown" is the new normal.

May 31, 2012 2:23 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

Sina 'information credit score' restricts Weibo users

An Internet user visits a Sina Weibo site. (Reuters/Carlos Barria)

Sina's Twitter-like microblog service Weibo has released new guidelines to restrict users who share banned content, according to international news reports. It's the first time such guidelines target users who adopt puns, homonyms, and other veiled references to discuss censored news stories without using keywords on the propaganda department's blacklist, the reports said. 

May 29, 2012 4:10 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

Chinese microblog regulates, suspends users--again

Several Internet users in China are now unable to access Weibo, the popular microblog platform. (Reuters)

Pity those of us who monitor the ups and downs of China's popular microblog platform, Sina Weibo. For every story its users spread in defiance of local censorship, there follows a clampdown. Whether it's the latest strike against rumors, or real name registration, or newly banned keywords, there's always another restriction in the works as the service struggles to keep a lid on sensitive conversations without driving away its user base. "China tightens grip on social media," we might report, as the Financial Times did in April. And last October. (The U.K.-based newspaper also noted China's grip tightening on lawyers in March.) It's not that these headlines are misleading. They simply show how difficult it is to illustrate the grip that always tightens, but never quite suffocates.

Blog   |   China

China ducks questions about Al-Jazeera expulsion

In a press conference today, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesman Hong Lei, above, evaded questions about Al-Jazeera being denied journalist visas. (AP/Andy Wong)

"The Beijing branch of Al-Jazeera is still functioning normally."

This was not an auspicious reaction to the news that Al-Jazeera English has closed its Beijing bureau after being refused journalist visas. Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesman Hong Lei's responses at today's press conference did not improve from there, according to a partial transcript published by Voice of America. His explanations for the ministry's refusal to renew credentials for the channel's Beijing correspondent Melissa Chan were a mixture of denial and obfuscation. (Al-Jazeera's Arabic-language bureau continues to operate with several accredited journalists, according to The Associated Press.)

Alerts   |   China

China shuts out Al-Jazeera English in Beijing

New York, May 7, 2012--China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs should immediately grant accreditation to Al-Jazeera English reporters to work in China, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. The channel said China has refused its long-time correspondent Melissa Chan and other colleagues journalist visas, forcing it to close its Beijing bureau. 

May 7, 2012 9:10 PM ET

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Blog   |   China, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, Somalia, South Africa, Uganda, Zimbabwe

China's media footprint in Kenya

CCTV's East Africa operations are headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya. (CCTV)

Will China's quickly expanding media presence in Africa result in a fresh, alternative, and balanced perspective on the continent--much as Al-Jazeera altered the broadcast landscape with the launch of its English service in 2006--or will it be essentially an exercise in propaganda?

May 7, 2012 4:17 PM ET

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Alerts   |   China

Chen Guangcheng reporting censored, obstructed

A police officer records the press card of a journalist outside a hospital where Chen Guangcheng is seeking treatment. (AP/Ng Han Guan)

New York, May 3, 2012--Chinese security officials' ongoing obstruction of foreign and domestic journalists covering dissident Chen Guangcheng is a worrying sign for supporters trying to secure his safety, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Authorities in Chen's native Shandong province have kept the blind, self-taught lawyer isolated from the media since September 2010.

Blog   |   China, USA

China's media conditions threaten Chen Guangcheng

The battle over blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng's freedom and well-being is a battle over information. Both Chinese and U.S. officials are trying to spin the story their way. A few activists and media claim to speak for Chen, and in China's anti-press environment they are putting themselves at risk. Direct interviews with the man himself are hard to come by.

Blog   |   Bangladesh, Belarus, Burma, China, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Iran, Nepal, North Korea

China not most censored, but may be most ambitious

Chinese official Jia Qinglin, fifth from left, hands over keys to the China-built African Union headquarters to AU Chairman and Equatorial Guinea President Theodoro Obiang. (AFP/Tony Karumba)

China didn't make the cut for our 10 most censored countries. While the Chinese Communist Party's censorship apparatus is notorious, journalists and Internet users work hard to overcome the restrictions. Nations like Eritrea and North Korea lack that dynamism.

Blog   |   China, USA

New film "High Tech, Low Life" on Chinese bloggers

Director Stephen Maing, right, and Chinese blogger Zola answer questions at the Tribeca Film Festival. (CPJ/Gregory Fay)

"High Tech, Low Life," a new documentary about Chinese bloggers directed by Stephen Maing, debuted at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival in New York on April 19. It documents the lives of Zola (Zhou Shuguang) and Tiger Temple (Zhang Shihe), as they blur the lines of citizen journalism and activism though their reporting on evictions, pollution, and official cover-ups in China. Zola was in town for the premiere, and he and the director fielded questions from the audience after the film's showing.

Blog   |   China

Blind lawyer spurs news blackout in China

News of blind legal activist Chen Guangcheng has been censored for months. International news reports of his escape last week from incarceration in his home in Linyi, Shandong--apparently to U.S. protection, although his whereabouts remain unclear--has only intensified that censorship. That is unlikely to stop discussion among those familiar with Chen's case.

April 30, 2012 4:20 PM ET

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Alerts   |   China

Boxun news site attacked amid Bo Xilai coverage

Boxun News website was attacked after reporting on the scandal involving Bo Xilai. (AFP/Frederic J. Brown)

New York, April 25, 2012--The U.S.-based, Chinese-language news website Boxun has come under two crippling denial-of-service attacks in the past week as the outlet sought to report on the unfolding murder and corruption scandal involving former senior Communist Party leader Bo Xilai. The attacks forced Boxun to change its hosting company twice, the site's founder and editor Watson Meng told the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Meng, who spoke to CPJ from his home in North Carolina, said he had not been able to trace the source of the denial-of-service attacks but believed they were in reprisal for Boxun's reporting on Bo Xilai and his ally Zhou Yongkang, the Communist Party's security chief, whose political fate has also been the subject of speculation this month. The first attack, on Friday, was so severe that it not only threatened Boxun but its entire hosting service, name.com. Denial-of-service attacks overload host servers with external communications requests, thus preventing websites from functioning. 

Alerts   |   China

Chinese Internet crackdown on Bo Xilai rumors continues

New York, April 13, 2012--Chinese authorities should halt their censorship of Web content in the aftermath of senior politician Bo Xilai's dismissal, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Internet officials in China have deleted at least 210,000 online posts and shut down as many as 42 websites since mid-March for allegedly spreading rumors, the state-run news agency Xinhua reported on Thursday.

Blog   |   China

Chinese censors target tomatoes amid Bo Xilai scandal

(AP/Muhammed Muheisen)

Chongqing hotpot = King of the Southwest = King Who Pacifies the West = Minister of Yu = Tomato

What do these words have in common? They are all coded references to Bo Xilai, the disgraced former Communist Party leader in southwestern Chongqing, and they were all censored in China on Tuesday, according to the Berkeley-based China Digital Times website. Bo was removed from his post in March, and state media reported Wednesday he had been suspended from the governing Politburo and Party Central Committee. Propaganda officials censored speculation about Bo's downfall and its implications for political stability, so Internet users adopted terms like the ones above to avoid triggering keyword filters. Now these, too, have been blacklisted, according to China Digital Times. Will this senseless battle to hide information ever end?

April 11, 2012 2:42 PM ET

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Alerts   |   China

In China, website restrictions after politician's ouster

Authorities have suspended the comments feature on the Chinese microblog site Weibo, seen here, as a punishment for 'allowing rumors to spread.' (AFP/Mark Ralston)

New York, April 2, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists is concerned by Chinese authorities' recent clampdown on the Internet after rumors circulated about politician Bo Xilai's dismissal from the Communist Party leadership in Chongqing. In recent days, authorities have shut down several microblog sites and detained and targeted Internet users.

April 2, 2012 4:15 PM ET

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Alerts   |   China

Chinese journalist, a Bo Xilai critic, reportedly jailed

Reports are now emerging that a journalist was jailed in 2010 for criticizing the policies of Bo Xilai, above. (AFP)

New York, March 30, 2012--Authorities in Chongqing must clarify the status of a journalist who reports say was secretly sentenced to prison in 2010 for criticizing a government official in a personal blog, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. CPJ has not been able to independently confirm the journalist's jail sentence or his whereabouts.

Blog   |   China

How to stop rumors in China: Stop censorship

Chongqing party leader Bo Xilai's departure has left journalists with the difficult task of reporting on unconfirmed reports.

The sacking of Chongqing party leader Bo Xilai has sparked some entertaining gossip this month, leaving journalists covering China with the difficult task of reporting on unconfirmed reports. The Chinese government blames the international media, not its own lack of transparency and comprehensive censorship apparatus, for the burgeoning rumors. 

March 27, 2012 2:09 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

As Chinese politician censored, exiled journalist triumphs

A Chinese woman carries a protrait of Bo Xilai, until recently a rising political star with little tolerance for critics. (AFP)

The political ouster of Bo Xilai, Chinese Communist Party top dog in the major southwestern city of Chongqing, has been making headlines around the world. Bo notoriously silenced critics like investigative journalist Jiang Weiping, but the shoe is now on the other foot, at least for a while.

Many China watchers are familiar with Bo because he was in line for a position in the inner circle of Chinese politics, until state media announced his replacement last week. CPJ has reported on Bo for different reasons. Jiang, CPJ's 2001 International Press Freedom Award winner, spent five years behind bars in China, after revealing several corruption scandals involving Bo, a former mayor of Dalian city and then governor of the province, Liaoning, where Jiang worked.

March 19, 2012 3:27 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

Four years on, wife calls for Tibetan filmmaker's release

Lhamo Tso has traveled to Europe and America to publicize her husband Dhondup
Wangchen's imprisonment. (CPJ)

Lhamo Tso has not spoken to her husband Dhondup Wangchen since March 17, 2008. She, their four children, and his elderly parents live in India, and hear of him only when his sister visits the Xichuan Prison in Qinghai province, western China, where he is serving six years. Through glass, he passes on the news: He's contracted hepatitis, though the prison won't let the family pay for proper medical treatment. He's working less -- promoted from 17-hour days in a brick kiln to manufacturing acupuncture needles. His two lawyers have been told their Beijing-based firm will be put out of business if they continue to work on his case.

March 16, 2012 3:48 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

Will China's new detention law matter? Ask Zhang Mingyu

"Zhang Mingyu isn't out of danger yet."

These words, posted at 7:37 p.m. Wednesday on the Sina Weibo account of Chongqing property developer Zhang Mingyu after his detention by police, mark the latest twist in a story of political intrigue leading up to this week's legislative meetings in Beijing. As required by China's hardworking censorship machine, the state media has approached these meetings with a heavy dose of old-school propaganda, along with excruciatingly dull depictions of handshakes and applause and descriptions of work sessions sucked clean of any controversy. 

Blog   |   China

Journalists at work in China: Tibet and Beijing edition

A hostess fills tea cups for delegates inside the Tibet room at the Great Hall of the People before the Tibetan delegation meets as part of the National People's Congress in Beijing Wednesday. (AP/Andy Wong)

China media analysts are looking to two significant events to shape coverage this month: The anniversary of a failed uprising in Tibet, and the annual meetings of China's top political bodies, the National People's Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference in Beijing. Journalists at work in both areas attracted coverage of their own today--but from vastly different angles.

Blog   |   China

On board the election bus in China's Wukan

A villager stands near ballot writing booths at a school playground in Wukan village in Guangdong province Friday, one day before the election of a seven-member village committee. (Reuters/Bobby Yip)

Village elections taking place this weekend in southern Guangdong province's Wukan illustrate the strengths and weaknesses of China's media control. Censorship measures have not prevented strong domestic and international coverage of the democratic process. But has official tolerance of dissenting views increased since leaders cracked down on the attempted Jasmine revolution last year? Or is Wukan not a real challenge to one-party rule, and therefore OK to write about?

March 2, 2012 2:24 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

'Invisible Tibet' blogger elicits China's extra-judicial ire

In this photo taken February 27, Chinese paramilitary and riot police stand guard near barricades set up along the main street of a Tibetan monastery town in Sichuan province. (AP/Gillian Wong)

Beijing-based blogger Woeser reported on her website Invisible Tibet today that she has been confined to her residence by Beijing public security officers who are stationed outside her home. Woeser, an outspoken critic of Chinese government policies in Tibet, has written about a series of recent self-immolations among monks and arrests of writers in western China.

Blog   |   China

Ethnic violence renews information clampdown in China

Tibetans gather on the side of a street in Nangqian county, China's Qinghai province, to protest Chinese rule. (AP)

Two months into 2012, all-too-familiar stories are emerging from China's troubled minority regions, Tibet and Xinjiang. Following riots against Chinese rule in 2008 and 2009, violence and its corollaries--increased security and censorship--have become commonplace. Independent bloggers and journalists who cover the unrest pay a high price: Over half the 27 journalists documented by CPJ in Chinese prisons on December 1, 2011, came from ethnic minorities. Now we're bracing ourselves for the next wave of arrests.

Attacks on the Press   |   Chile, China, Egypt, Ethiopia, Mexico, Pakistan, Syria

Attacks on the Press in 2011: Abolishing Censorship

Police in Santiago seize a photographer during an anti-government demonstration. (Reuters/Carlos Vera)

Even as trade and new systems of communication turn us into global citizens, the information we need to ensure accountability often stops at national borders. New platforms like social media are valuable tools, but the battle against censorship is hardly over. By Joel Simon

Attacks on the Press   |   China

Attacks on the Press: China Holds Fast to Information Control

Ai Weiwei speaks to journalists at his home in Beijing after the government held him incommunicado for nearly three months. (AP/Ng Han Guan)

Internet users posed ever-bigger challenges to Beijing's media controls, boosting debate on public safety and censorship. But ahead of a 2012 leadership transition, the Chinese Communist Party looks likely to fiercely suppress dissent. By Madeline Earp

Attacks on the Press   |   China

Attacks on the Press in 2011: China

Authorities blocked reporting of unrest occurring around the world, from Inner Mongolia to the Occupy movement. More than half of the 27 journalists imprisoned on December 1 were from Tibet and Xinjiang, reflecting crackdowns after earlier unrest in minority regions. After online calls for Arab Spring-style demonstrations, dubbed the Jasmine revolution, CPJ documented the worst harassment of foreign journalists since the 2008 Olympics, including beatings and threats. Police detained dissidents--including outspoken artist Ai Weiwei--and writers they feared could galvanize protests, often without due process, and kept them under surveillance after release. Draft revisions to the criminal code would allow alleged antistate activists to be held in secret locations from 2012. Officials obstructed reporting on public health and food safety issues, among other investigations. President Hu Jintao’s U.S. visit and two bilateral dialogues, one on human rights, made little headway on press freedom, but domestic activists successfully challenged censorship using digital tools, especially microblogs.

February 21, 2012 12:15 AM ET

Blog   |   China, USA

Archaic media policies make China a poor partner

President Obama meets with Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping Tuesday at the  White House. (AP/Susan Walsh)

President Obama has promised to raise issues of human rights when he and his administration meet with Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping in the next day. After that, Xi, billed as China's next leader, is expected to make some speeches, visit a few factories, stop at the Pentagon, sign some contracts that will strengthen economic ties between the two countries, and then head home.

February 14, 2012 3:25 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

In high-tech China, low-tech media control works too

Tibetan monks lead a prayer vigil outside the Chinese Embassy in London Wednesday. (AFP/Justin Tallis)

China's investment in high-tech Internet surveillance technology is well known, and the byzantine rules of its Central Propaganda Department have inspired books and academic treatises.

But among the many tools in the box for media control, there's one that's very simple and low-tech: Keep journalists away.

Blog   |   China, Internet, UK, USA

Can selective blocking pre-empt wider censorship?

A screen shot showing part of a Twitter blog post in which the company announced it could now censor messages on a country-by-country basis. (AP/Twitter)

Last week, Twitter provoked a fierce debate online when it announced a new capability--and related policy--to hide tweets on a country-specific basis. By building this feature into its website's basic code, Twitter said it hoped to offer a more tailored response to legal demands to remove tweets globally. The company will inform users if any tweet they see has been obscured, and provide a record of all demands to remove content with the U.S.-based site chillingeffects.org.

February 3, 2012 5:14 PM ET

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Blog   |   China, USA

Does the Internet boost freedom? We decide, book says

Rebecca MacKinnon, shown here in Tunisia last year, asserts in a new book that citizens and governments must decide the power of the Internet. (AFP/Fethi Belaid)

The Internet doesn't bring freedom. Not automatically, anyway.

That's one of the main messages of Rebecca MacKinnon's new book, Consent of the Networked, which had its New York launch at the offices of the New America Foundation last night. In a conversation with CNN managing editor Mark Whitaker, MacKinnon, a CPJ board member, said it's up to concerned citizens, governments, and corporations to make decisions about how the Internet is used. She contrasted the Twitter-powered revolt in Egypt last year with the "networked authoritarianism" of China, where corporations are collaborators in a system designed to preserve Communist Party rule.

Blog   |   China

Chinese press has impact, against the odds

The sky over Beijing, as it turns out, isn't quite as blue as the government long claimed. (Reuters/David Gray)

In China, state control over the media hasn't become more lax in recent years. Each year brings a new excuse for Communist Party censors to tighten the screws. The year of the rabbit brought the Arab Spring, and fears of a Jasmine Revolution. The year of the dragon brings a major political transition

Blog   |   China, Colombia, Mexico, Security, USA

For journalists, cyber-security training slow to take hold

For centuries, journalists have been willing to go to prison to protect their sources. Back in 1848, New York Herald correspondent John Nugent spent a month in jail for refusing to tell a U.S. Senate committee his source for a leak exposing the secret approval of a treaty with Mexico. In a digital age, however, journalists need more than steadfast conviction to keep themselves and their sources safe. Government intelligence agencies, terrorist groups, and criminal syndicates are using electronic surveillance to learn what journalists are doing and who their sources are.  It seems many journalists are not keeping pace.

Blog   |   China, Internet, Iran, Syria

Google+, real names and real problems

At the launch of Google+, Google's attempt to create an integrated social network similar to Facebook, I wrote about the potential benefits and risks of the new service to journalists who use social media in dangerous circumstances.

Despite early promises of relatively flexible terms of service at Google+, the early days of implementation were full of arbitrary account suspensions - particularly of pseudonymous users - and the appeals process was unclear. The result was a lot of early bad press for the service from the traditional "first adopter" crowd, a framing it has subsequently struggled to escape.

January 26, 2012 11:35 AM ET

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