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.
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. Analysis by Madeline Earp
China ceded its position as the world’s leading jailer of journalists, a distinction it shared with Iran in 2010. Yet cases of journalists and activists under “soft detention” in their homes increased. Hong Kong’s Chinese Human Rights Defenders reported more than 200 such detentions in March; almost all were subsequently lifted, the group said.
World's worst jailers in 2011:
1. Iran: 42
2. Eritrea: 28
3. China: 27
4. Burma: 12
5. Vietnam: 9
5. Syria: 8
Documentarian Ai and associates disappeared in April to international condemnation. State media accepted his irregular arrest. Though penalized for allegedly delinquent taxes, he was never charged. Newspapers debated draft legalization of secret detentions for 2012.
Systematic harassment of government critics:
The Twitter-like provider supported 56.5 percent of China's microbloggers in 2010, according to state media.
Authorities began intensifying control of Sina corporation's Weibo after users shared news faster than authorities could censor it.
Grappling for control:
Traditionally lenient Guangzhou authorities suspended Southern Media Group colleagues Zhang Ping, Chen Ming, and Song Zhibiao; Time Weekly's Peng Xiaoyun; and Nanfang Chuang's Chen Zhong and Zhao Lingmin. Each was disciplined for critical commentary.
Investigative journalists faced reprisals as well: