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Key Developments

» The authorities censor, harass international reporters, effectively expelling one.

» Among world's worst jailers, government targets Tibetan, Uighur journalists.

As the leadership handed over power to new Communist Party appointees in a November congress, censors aggressively blocked coverage of dissent, including reports on blind legal activist Chen Guangcheng's escape from house arrest. Coverage of corruption was tightly controlled in foreign and domestic media. The New York Times and Bloomberg News were censored domestically after they revealed the fortunes held by the families of top leaders, including the incoming president, Xi Jinping. The Foreign Ministry declined to renew the credentials of Al-Jazeera correspondent Melissa Chan, forcing her to leave Beijing amid troubling anti-foreign rhetoric. Authorities removed top executives at two outspoken domestic papers, Guangzhou's New Express and Shanghai's Oriental Morning Post. Internet users debated environmental disasters and the high-profile ouster of former leadership candidate Bo Xilai over a corruption and murder scandal, setting off fresh censorship and anti-rumor campaigns. China continued to jail a large number of online journalists, many of whom sought to cover issues affecting ethnic minorities. Two Tibetan writers were jailed in 2012 for documenting a debate on the preservation of Tibetan culture. CPJ honored jailed Tibetan filmmaker Dhondup Wangchen with an International Press Freedom Award in November.

  • 32

    Imprisoned on December 1
  • $376

    Million in assets
  • 19

    Ethnic journalists jailed
  • 14

    Years since last expulsion

China remained one of the world's worst jailers of the press, trailing only Turkey and Iran.

Imprisoned worldwide according to CPJ's census:
Turkey: 49
Iran: 45
China: 32
Eritrea: 28
Syria: 15
Vietnam: 14
Azerbaijan: 9
Ethiopia: 6
Saudi Arabia: 4
Uzbekistan: 4
Democratic Republic of Congo: 3
India: 3
Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories: 3
Rwanda: 3
Morocco: 2
Bahrain: 1
Burkina Faso: 1
Burundi: 1
Cambodia: 1
Cuba: 1
Gambia: 1
Iraq: 1
Italy: 1
Kyrgyzstan: 1
Somalia: 1
Thailand: 1
Yemen: 1

Bloomberg News was censored after reporting that relatives of the incoming president, Xi Jinping, had invested in companies with assets totaling $376 million. Xi had urged other leaders not to seek personal gain from power. China censored other reports that documented the assets of top officials.

Censoring financial reports:

$160 million

Estimated assets amassed by the relatives of disgraced Chongqing party secretary Bo Xilai, according to The New York Times. The authorities repeatedly blocked coverage of Bo's corrupt practices and his wife's involvement in the murder of a British citizen.

$2.7 billion

Assets The New York Times traced to Prime Minster Wen Jiabao's family members in an October report. The figure was censored from Internet searches. The paper's English- and Chinese-language websites were also blocked.

Of the 32 journalists jailed in China, at least 19 were Tibetans or Uighurs imprisoned for documenting ethnic tensions that began in 2008. The number of jailed ethnic journalists climbed for the fourth consecutive year.

A clampdown on the ethnic press:

3 out of 28

Two Tibetans and one Uighur are held.

6 out of 24

Riots lead to the arrest of additional Tibetan journalists.

15 out of 34

Several Uighur journalists are jailed after ethnic unrest.

17 out of 27

More than half of jailed journalists are Tibetan or Uighur.


The foreign ministry's refusal to renew Al-Jazeera English correspondent Melissa Chan's journalism credentials resulted in her de facto expulsion in May. Chan was the first foreign journalist publicly forced out since 1998, according to CPJ research.

Silence and dissent:


Global leaders who, while visiting Beijing, failed to press China about faltering conditions for the international press. They were U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Denmark's Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt.


Foreign correspondent clubs in Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong that issued a joint email in August accusing officials of harassing at least four international journalists. Club members told CPJ that the clubs had been accused of illegal organizing and hoped to attract less attention by joining forces.

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