As Xi Jinping takes office as president of China, the citizenry he governs is more sophisticated and interconnected than any before, largely because of the Internet. A complex digital censorship system--combined with a more traditional approach to media control, such as jailing journalists--keeps free expression in check. Repressive regimes worldwide look to China as a model, but Beijing's system of control is increasingly endangered. A special report by the Committee to Protect Journalists
Journalist Liu Jianfeng worked in China’s state-controlled media for nearly two decades. Eventually, frustration with the system and pressure from his colleagues prompted him to quit. He continues to report on public issues such as land grabs, and hopes to find a new model for investigative journalism in China. Jonah Kessel reports. (11:10)
Read our accompanying special report, “Challenged in China,” on the shifting dynamics of censorship and media control.
By David Schlesinger
There is nothing like reading a report on China and the media to highlight the mass of contradictions that is the country today.
By Sophie Beach
On March 24, 2012, investigative journalist Yang Haipeng posted on his Sina Weibo microblog a story he had heard that alleged a link between Neil Heywood, an English businessman who had been found dead in a Chongqing hotel, and Bo Xilai, the powerful Chongqing Communist Party chief. His post is widely recognized as the first significant public mention of a connection between the two men and it spread like wildfire online before being deleted the next day. A month later, Yang’s Sina Weibo account, which had 247,000 followers, was shut down.
By Madeline Earp
Even as China’s virtual landscape buzzes with criticism of social injustices, government policy, and propaganda directives, independent journalism and expression are still perceived by the Communist Party as explicit political threats. Authorities also exploit vague legal language to prosecute dissenters based on published content, or bypass due process altogether, holding critics without charge or without notifying family members.
By Danny O’Brien and Madeline Earp
As the founding editor, in 2005, of the Liberian online investigative news site FrontPage Africa, Rodney Sieh has fought off lawsuits, imprisonment, and death threats. In the face of such pressures, he has still managed to expand the website into one of Liberia’s best-selling daily newspapers, making him a leading figure in both new and traditional news media in the country. It’s not surprising then, that he was one of 17 prominent African journalists and publishers invited by the Chinese government to a three-week “News and Publishing Seminar in Developing Countries” last August in Beijing.
CPJ offers the following recommendations to Chinese authorities and the international community.
Over the past 10 years, China’s media environment has been transformed by the explosion of the Internet and, since 2010, the phenomenon of weibo, or microblogs, which now have more than 309 million users. Click through the slideshow to see how Internet use has evolved.
China consistently imprisons dozens of journalists, usually under anti-state laws. The makeup of the prisoners has evolved with the rise of the Internet and as ethnic minorities are increasingly targeted amid unrest in prominently Tibetan and Uighur regions. Below, click on years and categories to see the journalists jailed from 2002-2012 and to group them by media, ethnicity, and charges.
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Blog: Bob Dietz