China / 2012

CPJ Blog

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China's name registration will only aid cybercriminals

December 28, 2012 5:24 PM ET

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...

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Taiwanese media sale could threaten press freedom

December 10, 2012 3:39 PM ET

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...

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Nearly 20,000 call to free Kyrgyz, Tibetan journalists

December 10, 2012 1:15 PM ET

"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...

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Confusion grows around missing Tibetan monk filmmaker

November 30, 2012 3:01 PM ET

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...

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Awardees say indignation trumps intimidation

November 21, 2012 12:46 PM ET

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,...

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What China's new leadership means for press freedom

November 15, 2012 5:23 PM ET

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...

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Tibetan voices censored around China's Party Congress

November 14, 2012 1:30 PM ET

Reports of a massive surveillance operation in Tibet and harassment of journalists covering Tibetan issues cast a shadow over eagerly anticipated leadership appointments expected tomorrow in Beijing....

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In China, kids ask the tough questions at Party Congress

November 13, 2012 2:18 PM ET

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....

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China's Xi Jinping unseen, unsearchable

September 12, 2012 7:08 PM ET

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....

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Thorning's chance to press China for media freedom

September 11, 2012 1:53 PM ET

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...

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As Wang is freed, Chinese journalist Shi Tao still held

August 31, 2012 12:42 PM ET

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...

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

August 21, 2012 4:39 PM ET

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:...

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Censors stymie reporting on China's biggest news stories

August 20, 2012 5:01 PM ET

It's a big news day in China, and state-controlled media are purposely dropping the ball to escape controversy and censorship. ...

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Japan releases Chinese journalists--China's up next

August 17, 2012 2:11 PM ET

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...

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Umbrellas cast shadow over 'open' trial in China

August 9, 2012 3:44 PM ET

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...

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Viewing the London Olympics coverage from China

July 27, 2012 2:09 PM ET

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...

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For journalists, danger lurking in your email

July 27, 2012 7:47 AM ET

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...

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

July 26, 2012 4:59 PM ET

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....

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Chinese censors move staff from outspoken papers

July 18, 2012 3:40 PM ET

Top figures at two outspoken newspapers in China were shuffled or suspended this week, according to online news reports....

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China's diverse censors

July 16, 2012 10:45 AM ET

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. ...

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Shallow victory for China's journalists, protesters

July 5, 2012 1:51 PM ET

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...

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The New York Times takes on China's censors

July 2, 2012 4:55 PM ET

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...

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What China's Weibo censorship does, and does not, reveal

June 28, 2012 4:01 PM ET

A flurry of research on Weibo censorship underscores what we already know about the Chinese company Sina's microblog service--with a few surprises thrown in. ...

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Don't punish Chinese restrictions with more restrictions

June 21, 2012 10:31 AM ET

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...

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In China, press rights equal press control

June 11, 2012 3:03 PM ET

China's state news agency Xinhua published the full text of the state council's National Human Rights Action Plan 2012-15 on Monday. There is no section dedicated to press freedom. But the most striking omissions can be found in the text itself....

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State-sponsored attacks: open season on online journalists

June 8, 2012 2:39 PM ET

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...

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Google gives Chinese Web users glimpse into censorship

June 5, 2012 3:41 PM ET

In China, people know enough not to take to the streets to commemorate the brutal crackdown on demonstrators in Tiananmen Square in 1989. Beijing is very quiet in the days before and after June 4. The Internet is a different story....

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23 years after Tiananmen, China is still paying

May 31, 2012 2:23 PM ET

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....

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Sina 'information credit score' restricts Weibo users

May 29, 2012 4:10 PM ET

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...

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Anti-foreign attitudes bode ill for China correspondents

May 21, 2012 1:34 PM ET

The story of Al-Jazeera English correspondent Melissa Chan's expulsion from China has a disturbing coda. ...

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Chinese microblog regulates, suspends users--again

May 10, 2012 3:40 PM ET

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...

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China ducks questions about Al-Jazeera expulsion

May 8, 2012 5:50 PM ET

"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...

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China's media footprint in Kenya

May 7, 2012 4:17 PM ET

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?...

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China's media conditions threaten Chen Guangcheng

May 2, 2012 3:18 PM ET

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....

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China not most censored, but may be most ambitious

May 2, 2012 2:10 PM ET

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....

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

May 1, 2012 5:36 PM ET

"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...

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Blind lawyer spurs news blackout in China

April 30, 2012 4:20 PM ET

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...

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Chinese censors target tomatoes amid Bo Xilai scandal

April 11, 2012 2:42 PM ET

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...

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How to stop rumors in China: Stop censorship

March 27, 2012 2:09 PM ET

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. ...

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As Chinese politician censored, exiled journalist triumphs

March 19, 2012 3:27 PM ET

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...

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

March 16, 2012 3:48 PM ET

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...

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

March 8, 2012 6:09 PM ET

"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...

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Journalists at work in China: Tibet and Beijing edition

March 7, 2012 6:00 PM ET

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...

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On board the election bus in China's Wukan

March 2, 2012 2:24 PM ET

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...

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

March 1, 2012 4:07 PM ET

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...

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Ethnic violence renews information clampdown in China

February 29, 2012 3:37 PM ET

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...

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Archaic media policies make China a poor partner

February 14, 2012 3:25 PM ET

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...

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Brazil set to test Twitter's selective blocking policy

February 10, 2012 4:52 PM ET

I've been telling reporters that Twitter's new national blocking policy was like Chekhov's gun. Its recent appearance inevitably prefigured its future use....

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

February 9, 2012 2:24 PM ET

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....

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Chinese media little help with Chongqing mystery

February 8, 2012 5:40 PM ET

The website of Xinhua News, China's state media flagship, leads today with EU's threats of sanctions against Syria. Elsewhere on their Chinese-language site, one can read about Wen Jiabao's remarks to the visiting Canadian prime minister, or look at photos of pretty white ladies lounging around, if that's your...

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Can selective blocking pre-empt wider censorship?

February 3, 2012 5:14 PM ET

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...

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Does the Internet boost freedom? We decide, book says

February 2, 2012 5:22 PM ET

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,...

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Chinese press has impact, against the odds

January 30, 2012 4:06 PM ET

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...

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For journalists, cyber-security training slow to take hold

January 27, 2012 3:57 PM ET

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....

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Google+, real names and real problems

January 26, 2012 11:35 AM ET

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...

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