Reporters Sans Frontiers China Annual Report 2004

Reporters Sans Frontiers China Annual Report 2004

Reporters Sans Frontiers have released their Annual Report on China. The major event of the past 12 months was the change of power to the 第四代 disidai – The Fourth Generation headed by President Hu Jintao. In spite of high hopes this would usher in a more open era of social and political liberties, there has been little evidence of a government prepared t relinquish its absolute control of the population, as evidenced by the worsening press freedom.

“2003 was the year of the corruption of the Chinese media,” said Liu Feng, editor in chief of the weekly Zhongguo Xinwen Zhoukan. He said the Chinese media, dominated by the party, had no choice but to obey the wishes of top officials and to let themselves be corrupted. Bribes are commonplace in the profession, in particular to organise reporting or an article, to attend a press conference. In October, four journalists working for the Xinhua news agency in central Shanxi province were punished for acepting money the previous year from the owner of a mine where there had been a serious accident. The journalists did not report the news.

Although the Beijing government promised that journalists covering the 2008 Beijing Olympics would be able to work freely, foreign and special correspondents remained tightly controlled. The Chinese communist party refuses to allow them to freely investigate dissidence, underground religious movements, corruption, Aids in Hunan province, strikes, the plight of North Korean refugees, natural catastrophes or Tibetan or Uighur separatism. The battle of the airwaves hotted up in 2003 between the Chinese government and international radio stations broadcasting in Mandarin, Cantonese and Tibetan. In Tibet, Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia, several campaigns were launched to counter separatism condemned as “terrorism”.

The lengthy report gives details on all 23 reporters currently in prison, those who were arrested, physically attacked, threatened, and harassment and obstruction. Also covered are the major stories including the cover-up of SARS last year, the Nanfang Zhuomo newspaper issue, and suppression of internet dissidents.