CPJ Blog

Press Freedom News and Views

China

2011


Blog   |   China

In China, real people vs. Internet minders

In the next three months, users of China's microblog weibo.com --- "weibo" is the generic Chinese term for Twitter-like platforms --- run by the huge sina.com (the English site is here) news portal, entertainment and blogging site, will have to start providing their real-world identities to the site, instead of simply being able to register. It seems likely the users of competitor tencent.com (English here) will have to do the same, though the government hasn't made that clear in recent announcements, dating back to December 16.

December 21, 2011 12:14 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

China's jailed Uighurs: Out of sight, not out of mind

Uighur journalists who covered protests such as this one in 2009 were sentenced to harsh prison terms. (AP)

For the first time in more than a decade, China is not the world's worst jailer of the press in CPJ's annual census of imprisoned journalists. Among the 27 jailed in China, one group has seen a massive jump in imprisonments. In another first since CPJ began taking its census, more than half of those behind bars for reporting in China are ethnic Uighur or Tibetan. What's more, two Uighur journalists have been unaccounted for since their scheduled 2011 release. The lack of information available about these cases is added proof that they were arrested to deprive their communities of a voice. 

Blog   |   Angola, China, Internet, Iran, Nigeria, Russia

Defending the middle ground of online journalism

It's easy to use polarizing descriptions of online news-gathering. It's the domain of citizen journalists, blogging without pay and institutional support, or it's a sector filled with the digital works of "mainstream media" facing financial worries and struggling to offer employees the protection they once provided. But there is a growing middle ground: trained reporters and editors who work exclusively online on projects born independent of traditional media. They share many of the practices of an older generation of reporters, but their work draws from the decentralized and agile practices of the digital world. 

Blog   |   China

China's new rules step up state control of reporting

A new set of media regulations in China is attempting to control the growing influence of social media users. (AFP)

China's latest media regulations, issued Thursday in a bid to take some steam out of microblogs that increasingly drive the country's news agenda, signal an increased role for the state in drafting and enforcing press standards.

November 14, 2011 12:01 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

Keeping a website alive behind the Great Firewall

Wednesday's post, "Advice for colleagues on the digital front lines," offered practical advice for keeping a website up and running in a hostile political environment. But such measures are not universally applicable. Sky Canaves, CPJ's new East Asia and Internet consultant in Hong Kong, sent this reality check for Internet writers in China, where tighter government scrutiny has driven online users to turn to other tactics.

November 11, 2011 1:20 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

Planning the next steps in Chinese media control

It's not clear whether Beijing will require licensing of social media sites or users to register under their real names. (Reuters)

In the latest sign of increasing pressure on Chinese companies to tighten control of the Internet, Chinese authorities convened an unusual seminar in Beijing for senior executives of 39 major enterprises involved in Internet services, technology and telecommunications.

November 8, 2011 1:25 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

China confronts Internet rumors and trashy TV

The China Internet Information
Center counted 420 million Internet users in China in the middle of 2010. (AP)

Along with cracking down on what it considers trashy TV --- China's State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) said Tuesday that it will limit entertainment and add more news and other programs that "build morality and promote the core values of socialism" -- the government is going after what it calls rumor mongers on the Internet. The BBC and others reported on the Internet crackdown after the official Chinese news agency Xinhua released a short item on Tuesday, announcing that three people had been detained or arrested for publishing incorrect information, or "spreading rumors online," as Xinhua put it.

October 27, 2011 1:26 PM ET

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Blog   |   China, USA

In lawsuit, Chinese writers allege Cisco aids government

In Hong Kong, a protester holds a portrait of the jailed writer Liu Xianbin. (Reuters)

Three Chinese writers who have spent time in prison for articles published online are suing California-based Cisco Systems Inc., according to international news reports. The suit accuses the company of providing information and technology to Chinese authorities that facilitated the writers' detentions--allegations that Cisco flatly denies. Chinese security officials have already interrogated one of the plaintiffs, according to his lawyer. Will the case against Cisco protect him and others in China from further repercussions? 

August 24, 2011 5:20 PM ET

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Blog   |   China, UK

Schlesinger: 'Media, Murdoch, and social responsibility'

Schlesinger (Reuters)

CPJ board member David Schlesinger, who is the chairman of Thomson Reuters in China, delivered a speech today at a conference sponsored by Caixin magazine. He touched on several current issues, and found lessons in the News of the World case that are relevant to journalists everywhere. And I particularly like his description of China's media which, for all CPJ's criticism, remains dynamic and growing.

Here's 
Schlesinger's address
.

July 22, 2011 2:37 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

The highs and lows of investigative reporting in China

Veteran investigative journalist Wang Keqin has always been positive about his chosen career, characterizing media restrictions in China as a cycle with ups and downs. In an interview for CPJ's October 2010 special report "In China, a debate on press rights," he told CPJ that "there was a big fall-off in reporting freedom in 2008 and 2009" because of the Olympics and the 60th anniversary of Communist Party rule. But he and many of his colleagues in China anticipated a corresponding loosening of restrictions to follow, pushing the industry toward greater freedom and professionalism over time.  

July 22, 2011 2:10 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

China censors reaction to star-studded propaganda film

In Shanghai, a promotional poster for "Revival." (AP/Eugene Hoshiko)

The creators of "Beginning of the Great Revival," a new film about the founding of the Chinese Communist Party, have spared no expense to make it a popular success. Done in a popular Chinese soap opera style, the movie features more than 100 stars, along with leading directors and producers. Then, the government enlisted information authorities to wipe out negative news coverage, according to international media reports.  

July 20, 2011 6:02 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

Hong Kong's accelerating media freedom decline

Police in Hong Kong crack down on a pro-democracy protest--and journalists who tried to cover the event. (Reuters/Tyrone Siu)

As a former resident of the Special Administrative Region, the classification given Hong Kong when it reverted to China's control in 1997, I've always watched the media there with the appreciative eye of a news consumer. The concept of "One Country, Two Systems," put forward to explain how the former British colony's capitalist economy and post-colonial administration were going to mesh with China's authoritarian government, was always suspect. A major concern was that China would eventually have to crack down on Hong Kong's free-wheeling media.  

July 14, 2011 12:46 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

Chinese censorship fans rumors on Jiang Zemin

At a Beijing exhibition, a portrait of Jiang and a security guard. (Reuters)

Sina's Twitter-like microblog platform Weibo blocked searches for "death," "river" and "301 Hospital" on Wednesday, according to The Wall Street Journal website. The company was responding to what Reuters reported was the service's most-discussed topic yesterday--the rumored demise of former President Jiang Zemin, whose surname, Jiang, means "river," and who may or may not have suffered a heart attack that was being treated at top leaders' hospital of choice in Beijing. 

July 7, 2011 5:29 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

On food safety, China misapplies a 'blacklist'

Sarcasm reflects how aware the Chinese public has become of the dangers of adulterated food. After Japan's Fukushima nuclear crisis, a rumor circulated in China that table salt could prevent radiation. In spite of the government's efforts to curb the rumors, tons of overpriced table salt were sold overnight. Chinese netizens reassured the public in their own ironic way. Chinese people have been consuming fruit soaked in pesticides, waste cooking oil, and pork tainted with chemicals for years, online commenters notes. In 2008, milk powder spiked with the chemical melamine caused sickness and death among young children. Nuclear radiation, in this light, seems less worrisome.  

June 27, 2011 9:05 AM ET

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Blog   |   China, Kazakhstan

Uighur refugee extradited by Kazakhstan, held in China

Chinese police patrol Urumqi following ethic violence in July 2009. (Reuters)

Kazakhstan authorities have extradited Uighur schoolteacher Arshidin Israil to China, where officials have described him without elaboration as a "major terror suspect," according to Reuters and other news accounts. Israil and his supporters believe the detention comes in reprisal for reporting he contributed to Radio Free Asia concerning the July 2009 riots in Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, according to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Israil, a native of Xinjiang, fled China after the unrest but was detained in Kazakhstan in June 2010, according to news reports. He was extradited on May 30 of this year, days after Chinese authorities censored reporting and restricted online discussion about ethnic unrest in Inner Mongolia--an autonomous ethnic region like Xinjiang.

Blog   |   China

Public health still risky topic for Chinese journalists

Public health reporting is improving in China, but not fast enough. A new Human Rights Watch report on child lead poisoning in Chinese cities documents harassment of local journalists trying to cover the problem. "Journalists who reported on the lead poisoning in three of the four locations told Human Rights Watch that police had followed them or forced them to leave the area when attempting to interview people," the report says. 

Blog   |   China

Chinese media freedom in a 'sensitive' period

Madeline Earp speaks in London on Friday on press freedom in China. (BBC)

I was in London on Friday, speaking at a seminar joint-hosted by the BBC Chinese service and the British think tank Chatham House called "Media Freedom in China and the Role of International Broadcasters." There was a lot of impassioned discussion about the range of challenges facing international broadcasters, from slashed budgets to the recent press freedom crackdown. (Chinese speakers can watch my presentation on the BBC website.)

June 6, 2011 5:50 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

No spring in China, but are the media heading for a fall?

Here's a quick toss to a video posted on YouTube by Australian Broadcasting's reporter Stephen McDonell. He and his crew decided to confront some Chinese security types (not surprisingly they didn't identify themselves) who had been following them in Wenzhou while reporting in China. The team was covering religion, including underground or "house" churches--those not sanctioned by the government. The confrontation with McDonell's watchers in a posh hotel lobby is telling. McDonell's full story aired on May 17; you can find it at abc.net.au/foreign. And add a round of applause for the crew's cameraman Rob Hill for getting so much of the confrontation on tape. 

May 26, 2011 1:25 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

Q&A: Filmmaker talks Ai Weiwei and jailed activists

A still from the film of Ai Weiwei, taken in Jingdezhen, China, in 2010. (Courtesy Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry)

Three years after a devastating earthquake hit Sichuan province in May 2008, CPJ spoke to documentary filmmaker Alison Klayman. The director is working on the upcoming "Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry," about the recently detained Chinese artist who documented the aftermath of the earthquake and published the names of children killed in the collapse of frail school buildings. 

May 13, 2011 3:30 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

U.S-China disagreement, not dialogue, on human rights

The U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue, which concluded in Washington today, may not have produced much in the way of specific commitments on human rights issues. But media appearances surrounding the talks have provided a forum for top leaders to re-state their views in public. 

May 10, 2011 3:54 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

U.S.-China dialogue must keep focus on human rights

Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo, left center, and others at the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue today. (AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
China's powerful State Councilor Dai Bingguo told U.S. officials today that his country was "making progress" on human rights issues, according to Agence France-Presse. The remarks, made at the start of the two-day Strategic and Economic Dialogue, do not bode well for U.S. efforts to keep human rights on the table after last month's exchange on human rights in Beijing. 
May 9, 2011 5:38 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

Only some Chinese writers allowed to attend PEN Festival

Zha Jianying discusses Ai Weiwei, pictured at left after a police attack, at the Pen World Voices Festival. (CPJ)

The stage was full of empty chairs on Thursday at "China in Two Acts," part of the five-day PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature in New York, which ended on Sunday.  A two-part program featured writer Zha Jianying speaking for the first part followed by a panel discussion in the second. The chairs, a nod to Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo's recent imprisonment, also signified the absence of Liao Yiwu, author and fellow IndePENdent Chinese PEN Center board member. Liao was barred from leaving the country, festival chair Salman Rushdie wrote in a New York Times op-ed

Blog   |   China

U.S. rights message falls on deaf ears in China

 Michael Posner said he does not feel comforted from the response or lack of response on the recent detention of Ai Weiwei, seen here. (AP/Andy Wong)

As predicted by CPJ and many other commentators, results of the U.S.-China human rights dialogue this week are less than satisfactory. The U.S. side was more critical than it has been, but China remained defiantly deaf to foreign pressure. 

April 29, 2011 11:22 AM ET

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Blog   |   China

How the U.S. should raise human rights in China dialogue

One day ahead of two-day bilateral talks with the U.S., China's Foreign Ministry rejected what it labeled "interference" in the country's internal affairs under the rubric of human rights, according to international news reports. Despite this obstructionist tone, CPJ hopes that Washington officials, led by Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Michael Posner, will stick to their announced agenda--and cast it as a matter of China's own national interest.

April 26, 2011 1:21 PM ET

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Blog   |   China, Internet, Malaysia, Russia

Cyber-attacks on press up in number, down in cost

Novaya Gazeta, a leading Russian independent news outlet, has been under cyber-attack.

The last two weeks have seen a spate of denial-of-service (DOS) attacks against news sites, coordinated attempts to overwhelm outlets with fake incoming data so the sites cannot respond to legitimate users.

Blog   |   China

News assistants in China: an invisible, important group

Among the first concerns a journalist may have on coming to China as a foreign correspondent is how to communicate with the Chinese people, the majority of whom do not speak a word of English. Finding a "news assistant" is usually the answer.

Blog   |   China

Site hosting Ai Weiwei petition hit with cyberattack

Change.org was the target of a denial of service attack that it says originated in China. (AP/Andy Wong)
Change.org is back up and running after what the site said was a cyberattack that came from within China. Here's the site's announcement that was running on its homepage earlier today:
April 20, 2011 12:20 PM ET

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Blog   |   China, Libya

Al-Jazeera journalist pans China's Libya coverage

In reporting on the Libyan conflict, China's media "emphasize only the humanitarian disasters caused by Western air bombardments, and [report] sparingly if at all on the violent suppression and massacre of the people by Qaddafi," Al-Jazeera's Beijing bureau chief, Ezzat Shahrour, writes on his blog. Chinese readers so far have been largely supportive of his viewpoint.

April 19, 2011 1:58 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

China seizes critics as domestic media avert eyes

Why hasn't the government disclosed Ai Weiwei's status? And why aren't domestic media questioning the government? (AP/Andy Wong)

The Chinese security apparatus is kidnapping government critics, unchallenged by the domestic press. Writer Yang Hengjun, who went missing in March and has since reappeared, criticized the Chinese press this week for failing to report on his enforced disappearance. While state media are accusing the missing artist and social critic Ai Weiwei of plagiarism and being "erratic," according to UK-based The Economist, they are not questioning his apparent, unlawful detention.

April 15, 2011 2:28 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

In Ai Weiwei coverage, a couple of unexpected notes

We reported Thursday that Chinese media reports on Ai Weiwei have reflected his ambiguous status in Chinese law. After several days in which Ai was considered missing, the Foreign Ministry acknowledged police were investigating him for "economic crimes" although it stopped short of saying he was detained. Coverage within China remains very limited, although there have been a couple of surprising, ambivalent notes about his fate. 

April 8, 2011 11:15 AM ET

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Blog   |   China

In China, a state of denial on detentions, abuse

China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Jiang Yu, today denied having heard of Sydney-based Chinese author and blogger Yang Hengjun, according to The Associated Press. We reported yesterday that Yang was missing, presumed to be the latest high-profile writer to fall victim to the government's aggressive roundup of critics who might respond to online calls for a Chinese "Jasmine revolution." Concern for Yang deepened today, after reports emerged that he had called his sister in Guangzhou to say he had been detained. "Having a long chat with old friends" was the pre-arranged phrase they used, AP reported. 

March 29, 2011 3:44 PM ET

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Blog   |   China, Internet

Is China censoring phone conversations?

Are Chinese mainland citizens, as has been reported, finding their telephone conversations cut off whenever they mention the word "protest?" While large-scale, real-time voice recognition is a technological possibility, it is at the edge of what is believed likely. It would certainly be revealing about the capabilities of the Chinese government if these anecdotes proved to be widespread. 

March 24, 2011 11:02 AM ET

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Blog   |   China, Internet

Michael Anti's exile from Facebook over 'real-name policy'

Michael Anti's anger with Facebook grew when he heard that the company hosts a page for the dog of founder Mark Zuckerberg, seen here. (Reuters)

The Chinese journalist Michael Anti had his Facebook account deleted in January. The reason Facebook gave was that Michael Anti isn't his real, government-recorded, name--which is true. Instead, Anti is the name that he has written under for almost a decade, on his own personal blogs, and in his writing for the New York Times and other publications. It's the name on his Harvard fellowship documents. It's what his public knows him as. It's what you would search for if you were looking for his writing, or aiming to get in touch.

March 9, 2011 5:12 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

Mideast protests a red flag to Chinese censors

A Chinese policeman checks the identity of a foreign journalist, right, near the Xidan shopping district, a designated a demonstration site in an Internet call for protests in Beijing on Sunday. (AP)
Working to defend press freedom, I take it that I've hit the mark when I get censored. So I smiled today when I got an e-mail from a friend in China who said he was in the gym watching breakfast television when my face came up on CNN. I opened my mouth and the screen went blank. Chinese censors are nothing if not quick.

March 8, 2011 3:39 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

Abusive Twitter messages target foreign media in China

Chinese police stand guard near a planned protest site for the "Jasmine Revolution" on February 20 in Beijing. (AP/Andy Wong)

California-based China Digital Times (CDT) reports new Chinese-language Twitter commentators have appeared in the last week. Twitter is generally blocked in China, but heavily used by activists who access it by means of proxy networks overseas. The recent arrivals are vocal supporters of the government's efforts to tamp down nascent "Jasmine Revolution" rallies anonymously organized in Chinese cities the past two Sundays. 

March 2, 2011 2:22 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

Lawyer's footage of house arrest published in China

Men in plainclothes recently harassed at least six foreign journalists in Shandong province. Vivid news footage shoes a group pelting CNN reporter Stan Grant and his photographer with rocks when they tried to visit the home of an activist under house arrest. Brice Pedroletti from France's Le Monde, Stephane Lagarde with Radio France Internationale, and an unnamed New York Times journalist and photographer underwent similar confrontations in February, according to Agence France-Presse. 

Blog   |   China, Taiwan

Is Taiwan's media independence under threat?

As business relations develop between China and Taiwan, concerns are growing that Taiwan's media freedom may be compromised. The culprits include some journalists themselves, promoting China to preserve their own business interests, and Taiwan's Kuomintang (KMT) government, apparently attempting to exert control over the media through legislation.  

February 1, 2011 5:27 PM ET

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Blog   |   China, Egypt

China limits reporting on Egypt unrest in favor of 'harmony'

Chinese information authorities are filtering results of Chinese-language Internet searches for "Egypt" and "Cairo," according to Global Voices Online and The Wall Street Journal. The unrest raging there could prompt comparison with the student-led protests in Tiananmen Square in 1989 or incite anti-government demonstrations.

January 31, 2011 6:01 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

In China, Kristof's blogs are shut down

Nicholas Kristof's Sunday column in The New York Times documents the latest in a series of tests the journalist has performed in Chinese cyberspace. The conflicting results he achieved while setting up a Chinese-language blog and micro-blog demonstrate how difficult it is to judge what censors will permit in an online space.

January 24, 2011 4:19 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

In Chinese media, 'a lot to be done' is left unsaid

It is fair to report, as Agence France-Presse and others did today, that Chinese media largely avoided President Hu Jintao's comments on human rights during a Washington press conference on Wednesday. But the nature of the omission is significant. Chinese reports acknowledged that a discussion of human rights took place between Hu and U.S. President Barack Obama, but omitted the very phrase that dominated international coverage: "A lot still needs to be done," Hu finally acknowledged to reporters. And the context--Hu being challenged during a public press conference--is absent.

January 20, 2011 1:57 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

Washington reporters press China's Hu on human rights

Reporters push Hu to respond to press freedom concerns. (AP/Charles Dharapak)

Thanks to Ben Feller and Hans Nichols for raising questions about China's human rights and press freedom record. A lot of Chinese journalists are grateful, too. When we urged U.S. President Barack Obama last week to raise press freedom concerns in his meetings with Chinese President Hu Jintao, we received no response. But when Feller of The Associated Press and Nichols of Bloomberg asked tough questions at the two leaders' joint press conference on Wednesday, we knew someone was listening. 

January 20, 2011 1:02 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

Obama should raise Chinese press attacks with Hu

Press freedom should be on the agenda for Hu's visit. (AP/Charles Dharapak)

In an open letter on January 11, CPJ asked U.S. President Barack Obama to raise the issue of jailed journalists with Hu Jintao while the Chinese leader is in Washington this week. They have plenty to talk about, but journalist freedom and security should be near the top of the agenda. 

Blog   |   China

Chinese reporter's death came days before Hu's U.S. tour

On the heels of a brutal killing of a Chinese reporter, CPJ has asked President Obama to discuss press issues with President Hu Jintao, seen here. (Reuters)

CPJ has written to President Obama asking him to raise press freedom issues when Hu Jintao comes to the U.S. next week. China's practice of restricting and imprisoning reporters domestically has serious implications for the U.S.-China relationship, and a concerning case last month suggests it may be getting worse. 

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