On 11 January 2001, Chinese President Jiang Zemin stated that ?he news media are the spokespeople of the Party and the people?and that they have a duty ?o educate and propagate the spirit of the Party? Central Committee.?According to him, this must be ensured by the ?ublicity?Department (the former Propaganda Department) of the Chinese Communist Party. During the weeks following these statements, new instructions were sent to editors of the main media, saying especially that they were to concentrate on the coverage of ?ositive events? Sanctions are being imposed without any warning. The stakes of this purge are two-fold: avoid criticism as Jiang Zemin? departure from presidency draws near, and restructure the press to eliminate the overly independent provincial media.
Fortunately, this tightened control did not lead to a wave of journalists?arrests, although some of them showed boldness by regularly testing censorship limits on sensitive topics. Several times, editorial staff overrode the Party? instructions by covering accidents, such as explosions in a mine or a school, without any authorisation. On the other hand, police have concentrated on controlling ?ubversive activities?on the Internet. No fewer than sixteen cyber-dissidents were arrested in 2001. As of 1 January 2002, at least fourteen journalists are still rotting in prison. Four of them have been imprisoned since the crackdown of Beijing in the spring of 1989.
The Beijing regime had to speed up its media reorganisation to adapt the country? media to new competition resulting from China? entry in the World Trade Organisation (WTO). In December, China set up a huge public communication company that includes the leading public television channel, two official radio stations and some movie production companies. Its director is none other than the vice-director of the Party? ?ublicity?Department. In July, the government authorised provincial authorities to sell their publications in other provinces and to develop partnerships. But these new rules shook the country. Several local authorities banned or blocked competing publications to protect their own, and especially to avoid losing control of the press their constituents read. Foreign investment in Chinese press is still forbidden, but, according to one of the managers of the new daily newspaper Jinghua Shibao, launched in May in Beijing, the country? entry in the WTO will require the government to authorise this investment. For the first time, in October, two foreign press groups (the American AOL-Time Warner and the Australian News Corp, owned by Rupert Murdoch) were authorised to broadcast television programs by cable in the Guangdong region, but under drastic conditions: these channels can only broadcast entertainment programs and must respect government rules on their content. The two press groups accepted this self-censorship, imposed by Chinese authorities, without any criticism. In January, the BBC World Service had already obtained authorisation to broadcast its programmes in hotels and residences of foreigners.
In Hong Kong, self-censorship is strong but pressure from Beijing has not increased noticeably. However, the private press has been hurt by the city? economic slowdown. The weekly Asiaweek closed down in December. Finally, competition is being felt from newspapers from mainland China.
In 2001, the battle for the airwaves continued between the Chinese government and international radio stations broadcasting in Mandarin, Tibetan or Uighur. Despite frequent jamming, programs in Uighur through the Voice of America (VOA), Radio Free Asia (RFA) and Radio Almaty (based in Kazakhstan) are much listened to by the population of Xinjiang. In October, RFA increased their broadcasts from one to two hours per day. Programmes in Tibetan broadcast by the Voice of Tibet, VOA, BBC and RFA became the target of the authorities, who used important means to block them. Foreign radio stations are still a ?reath of fresh air?for Uighurs and Tibetans. Listeners are conscious of the risks they take and usually chose to listen in secrecy. ?e never get news about Xinjiang on television nor on the national radio. Just songs, dances and political propaganda. We are bombarded with the government? political opinions. It is useful to listen to diverging opinions on free radio stations,?said one Uighur. However, in March, the official news agency Xinhua said that, ?nfiltration by hostile foreign radio stations is becoming increasingly dangerous.?
Instructions are strictly applied in Tibet. In November 2001, the propaganda director of the province reminded people that ?t all administrative levels, the Party? newspapers must be read and studied.?Control is also very strict in Inner Mongolia. Authorities are still forbidding the publication of the dissident magazine The Voice of Southern Mongolia, banned in 1995.
In 2001, the Chinese government again showed its determination to prevent the foreign press from covering sensitive topics. The Chinese Communist Party denies foreign correspondents the right to investigate freely on dissidence, illegal religious movements, corruption, AIDS in Henan province, natural disasters, or Tibetan and Uighur separatists. According to the rules imposed by the Beijing regime, foreign journalists must ask the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for an authorisation to leave the capital, and this must be done in advance. Once in a province, they are placed under the control, often very strict, of local representatives of the ministry.
A journalist killed
On 15 January 2001, Feng Zhaoxia, journalist with the daily Gejie Daobao, published in Xian (Shanxi province), was found dead, his throat slit. One week after his body was discovered, police concluded that it was a suicide, despite assertions to the contrary by Feng? family, colleagues and local journalists?associations. According to them, this was a murder related to articles the journalist had published. According to the Guangzhou daily Yangcheng Wanbao, and the Hong Kong newspaper Ming Pao, Feng Zhaoxia had investigated the activities of local organized crime groups and had denounced complicities between these groups and some authorities. According to his wife, Feng Zhaoxia, 48 years old and father of two children, had no reason to commit suicide. On the eve of his disappearance, Feng received a phone call. He left his home and never came back. Moreover, his corpse had deep gashes in the throat and it was very unlikely that he could have cut himself that way. Feng? family and colleagues, incensed at the police? hasty conclusions, have asked several times that the case be re-opened and that a serious investigation be carried out. In addition, a few days after the murder, the province? public department of information prohibited the publication of new articles about Feng? death.
Fourteen journalists jailed
As of 1 January 2002, at least fourteen journalists are imprisoned.
Yu Dongyue, art critic with the Liuyang News, was arrested on 23 May 1989 and sentenced to 20 years in prison. He is held in prison no. 1 in Hunan province, and suffers from serious psychological problems following long periods of isolation.
Hu Liping, journalist with the Beijing Daily, was arrested on 7 April 1990 and sentenced to ten years in prison. Accused of ?ropaganda and counter-revolutionary incitement? he is said to be held in Beijing? prison no. 2.
Chen Yanbin, co-publisher of the clandestine magazine Tielu, was arrested in late 1990 and received a double sentence: eight years in jail for ?ncitement to rebellion?and eight years for ?preading counter-revolutionary propaganda?in an underground magazine. The two sentences were later reduced to 15 years. In 1998, his sentence was reduced by three months for ?ood behaviour? by the authorities of prison no. 2 in Beijing.
Zhang Yafei, co-publisher of the clandestine magazine Tielu, was arrested in September 1990 and sentenced to eleven years in jail for ?preading counter-revolutionary propaganda? Zhang is held in a ?rison factory?which repairs vehicles in Jinan, capital of Shandong province.
Liu Jingsheng, union leader and co-founder of the clandestine magazines Inquiries (Tansuo) and Freedom Forum, was arrested on 28 May 1992 and sentenced to fifteen years in prison for ?ounter-revolutionary propaganda? In 2000, his sentence was reduced by one year and one month for ?ood behaviour?and for ?xpressing regrets? Liu is held in the Banbuqiao detention center in Beijing, and suffers from gastric problems and hypertension.
Ma Tao, journalist with the magazine China Education and Health News, was arrested in October 1992 and sentenced to six years in prison for ?llegally disclosing state secrets to people outside of the country?
Wu Shishen, journalist with the Hong Kong daily Express and the Xinhua press agency, was arrested in October 1992 and sentenced to life in prison on direct orders from President Jiang Zemin. Wu was accused of ?llegally disclosing state secrets? Wu Shishen passed on, to a Hong Kong journalist, a speech that the Head of State was planning to give before the Communist Party? Congress.
Tenpa Kelsang, editor-in-chief of the magazine Tibetan Literature and Language, was arrested in August 1993 in Lhassa (Tibet). He was accused of writing and distributing texts in favour of Tibetan independence.
Gao Qinrong, journalist with the Xinhua news agency in Shanxi province, was arrested on 4 December 1998 and sentenced to thirteen years in jail for ?orruption? ?mbezzlement?and ?rocuring? thanks to witnesses who gave false testimony. Local authorities blamed him for revealing that the failure of a great irrigation project was the fault of a provincial Communist Party official. According to Gao Qinrong? wife, Duan Maoying, in November 2001, Gao ?as grown very weak. He has lost his hair. He cannot write anymore because his hands shake too much.?Duan is only authorised to visit him once a month. On 9 September 2001, Gao Qinrong had a letter sent to Mary Robinson, United Nations High commissioner for Human Rights, in which he asked her to approach Chinese authorities in his favour. Despite this initiative, Gao insists that the authorities did not pay attention to his case and that Huang Youquan, a high-level official for the Party in the Shanxi, is protected by some members of the Central Committee in Beijing, especially Hu Fuguo, a former Party official in Shanxi. On 8 December 2001, it was Duan Maoying? turn to address President Jiang Zemin and the Prime Minister, on Journalists?Day (an official celebration for the profession). Gao? wife said that the Supreme Court, the central disciplinary commission of the Party, and local and national press representatives refuse to support Gao? case. Only a few courageous Chinese journalists, especially from the weekly Nanfang Zhoumo, have published articles on Gao, but they have since been fired. ?verybody is frightened because there is a lot of pressure from above,?said Duan, who came to Beijing to defend her husband? case. She said that she spent 100,000 yuan (more than 10,000 euros) on her campaign to have her husband released.
Wang Yiliang, founder of the Bulletin of the Chinese Cultural Renaissance, was arrested on 31 January 2000 and sentenced to two years of ?eeducation through labour?for ?irculating pornographic material.?Authorities blamed Wang for being involved in the creation of the clandestine magazine Bulletin of the Chinese Cultural Renaissance. He is held in the Shanghai reeducation camp.
Qi Yanchen, editor-in-chief of the online magazine Consultations, was arrested on 2 September 1999 and sentenced to four years in prison for ?ubversion?and ?irculation of anti-governmental information?on the Internet. The journalist and cyber-dissident published several articles on the Internet, including excerpts of his book on the economic situation of China. Qi Yanchen is held in Shijiazhuang prison (south of Beijing).
Ngawang Choephel, a free-lance Tibetan film director, was arrested in August 1995 in Tibet and sentenced to eighteen years in jail for ?ubversion? ?pying?and ?ounter-revolutionary activities? Chinese authorities blamed Ngawang Choephel for attempting to film a report about traditional Tibetan music and dance which, according to him, are threatened by the Chinese cultural colonisation of Tibet. After spending two years in the Powo Tramo (Tibet) high-security prison, he was transferred in August 2000 to Chengdu prison, in Sichuan province, in China. There has been no news of Ngawang Choephel since then.
On 5 September, Jiang Weiping, bureau chief of the daily Wen Wei Po (published in Hong Kong) in Dalian (Liaoning province), was tried in secrecy by Dalian Intermediary Court. His relatives were not allowed to attend the trial nor to visit him in the town prison. The sentence was only announced in early November: Jiang Weiping was sentenced to nine years in jail for ?isclosing State secrets? ?ttempting to overthrow State power?and ?llegal possession of confidential documents? He was arrested on 5 December 2000 and is held in the prison of Dalian, in Liaoning province. Jiang was convicted for publishing a series of four articles, in the Hong Kong magazine Qianshao, on the corruption of high-level officials in northeastern China. These articles especially implicated the governor of Liaoning province, Bo Xilai, son of Chinese Communist Party veteran Bo Yibo. Ma Xiangdong, former deputy mayor of Shenyang, sentenced to death for corruption, was also targeted by Jiang? investigations. According to the journalist, Ma embezzled more than 3,000,000 euros to gamble in the casinos of Macao. Finally, Jiang stated in one of his articles that Qian Duhua, mayor of Daqing (province of Heilongjian), used public funds to purchase apartments for his 29 mistresses.
On 22 December, Lu Wanbin, journalist with Textile Daily, was arrested in Yangcheng (Jiangsu province) while investigating a strike in a textile factory. Workers in the Huainan factory were opposed to the privatisation of their company and decreases in their salaries. Lu did not have time to publish his article before being arrested. Lu Wanbin, in his twenties, is a ?romising?journalist, according to one manager of the newspaper.
Journalists Hu Liping, Wang Yiliang and Ma Tao should have been released after serving their sentences, but the authorities have never confirmed their release. In addition, there is no news about two journalists who may still be jailed. Li Jian, editor-in-chief of Xinjiang Economic Journal (north-west of the country), is suspected to have been arrested in November 1999 for publishing a letter denouncing the corruption of local authorities. Feng Daxun, former journalist and activist with the banned Chinese Democratic Party, was charged with ?ubversive acts?in June 2001. He was accused of interviewing workers who were demonstrating in Neijiang about lay-offs and late payment of their salaries.
On 8 April 2001, Wu Jianmin, an American scholar and former journalist with the Hong Kong magazine Kuai Bao (Express), was arrested in Shenzhen (south of the country). On 26 May, he was charged with ?athering information that endangered State security?and spying for Taiwan. This journalist, a former member of the Communist Party, had written for the Hong Kong newspapers Apple Daily and Kuai Bao. Wu Jianmin is considered to be a specialist on the 1989 Beijing Spring crack-down, and is thought to have been involved in the publication of the book ?iananmen Papers?(a transcription of discussions among Communist leaders just before the repression). But on 28 September, Wu Jianmin was released and expelled from China; this occurred shortly before American President George W. Bush visited the country. According to Chinese authorities, the journalist ?onfessed his crimes and admitted his misdeeds (? he received light punishment.?
On 25 July, Xue Deyun, a Chinese poet who was serving a five-year prison sentence, was released with time off for good behaviour. He had been arrested in January 1998 for founding the Cultural Renaissance Movement, which called for the end of the Communist Party? control of artistic and literary creation. Xue was involved in creating this organisation? magazine. Time off for good behaviour is an exceptional measure in China.
In 2001, police arrested at least sixteen cyber-dissidents. This makes a total of 22 Chinese dissidents and citizens imprisoned for publishing information considered ?ubversive?on the Internet.
Eight journalists arrested
On 12 April 2001, Lisa Rose Weaver and a cameraman with the American news channel CNN were arrested while filming the departure of the crew of an American spy plane from Hainan Island (south-east of the country). They were questioned for several hours, and the authorities were critical of them broadcasting a live report from the island with a videophone. This practice is totally forbidden to foreign journalists in China. Police confiscated the journalists?accreditations and video equipment. From the beginning of the spy plane crisis, Chinese police prevented American journalists from going to Hainan Island to cover the investigation of the accident involving the EP-3 plane and a Chinese fighter. During this incident, the Chinese press spoke of ?orld indignation against this new imperialist aggression?
On 3 July, Jean-Marie Jolidon, photographer and reporter working for the Swiss press and photo agency Terra Productions, his companion and his ten-year old child were arrested by Chinese police in the international transit area of Beijing Airport. The reporter and his family had come from Switzerland and were about to board a plane for Ulan Bator, the capital of Mongolia. Eight policemen took them to an airport detention centre where they were interrogated for eight hours. They were expelled to Switzerland the same day. The authorities claimed that they did not have visas for China and were not authorised to be in the transit area. Yet, several other passengers in the same situation were able to go to Mongolia. The China consulate in Switzerland refused to give visas to the journalist and his family. Jean-Marie Jolidon had already made many photographic reports on Tibet and the Dalai Lama, and was going to Mongolia to do a report for a Swiss adventure magazine.
In August, two German journalists were arrested and held for several hours by police in Henan province. Harald Maass, correspondent with the daily Frankfurter Rundschau, and Katharina Hesse, photographer with the magazine Newsweek, were questioned by police officers who claimed they did not have official authorisation to visit the village de Shangcai (Henan province) where many people had AIDS. They were asked to leave the province.
On 20 November, Wen-Chun Fan, cameraman with the American TV channel CNN, Jutta Lietsch, correspondent with the German newspaper Leipziger Volkszeitung and contributor to the daily Tageszeitung, and Stefan Niemann, correspondent with the German TV channel ARD in Beijing and his assistant were detained and questioned by police while they were covering a demonstration of 35 Western followers of the spiritual movement Falungong at Tiananmen Square in Beijing. The cameramen? equipment was seized. The authorities accused the three journalists of not requesting an authorization for this report. They were released two hours later, but their equipment, including their films, press cards and residence permits, was not returned to them. Jutta Lietsch was summoned to the Foreign Ministry in the afternoon where she was told the authorities would not take into account their offence if the journalists did not report the events they had witnessed. After the publication of articles in the German press, the authorities called the ARD correspondent, Stefan Niemann, a ?roublemaker? The authorities also seized the press card of CNN reporter Wen-Chun Fan for two months.
A journalist attacked
On 23 June 2001, six police officers beat and arrested Stephen Shaver, a photographer with Agence France-Presse, who is an American citizen. He was near the ?orbidden City?where the concert of the ?hree Tenors? in support of Beijing? bid for the 2008 Olympic Games, was about to take place. The reporter, who had a pass given by Chinese authorities, was photographing the arrest of an unidentified demonstrator when six policemen violently apprehended him. Seized by both arms, he was hit and dragged along the street. The photographer was held for more than forty minutes in a police station near the site of the concert. He suffered from bruises on his arms. The AFP and the American State department protested against the photographer? aggression. The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said he was taking ?llegal photographs?
Pressure and obstruction
On 9 January 2001, Mike Wallace, anchorman of the ?0 minutes?programme on the American television channel CBS, was criticised by Chinese President Jiang Zemin for a story broadcast on the programme about the ?iananmen Papers?(confidential Chinese documents about events during the Beijing Spring, in 1989). Jiang Zemin said that CBS and the Western media were providing ?rroneous?coverage of these events.
On 12 January, Ding Guangen, the chief of propaganda, asked the media to ?ontinue their campaign?to discredit Falungong as the religious movement was preparing to organise a rally in Hong Kong. ?fforts must be made to show the dangerous political nature of this cult for society. The public must be helped to improve their resistance and save social stability,?said Ding.
In February, official Beijing newspapers and pro-Chinese Hong Kong newspapers accused the American television channel CNN and the Associated Press and Agence France-Presse news agencies of having encouraged the immolation of alleged followers of the Falungong movement at Tiananmen Square on 23 January. The authorities also threatened journalists with legal action for ?omicide? A CNN official confirmed that one of his teams was arrested that day near Tiananmen Square and that police confiscated their videotapes. But both the AFP and AP denied being present in the Square or having any involvement in the immolation. According to foreign correspondents in Beijing, this was an attempt by the regime to discredit foreign coverage of the country? repression against the Falungong movement. A few days before the immolation, the authorities and Chinese media launched a new campaign against this movement. Since Falungong was banned in July 1999, Chinese authorities have harassed foreign journalists investigating this issue. Photographers and cameramen working with foreign media are prevented from working on and around Tiananmen Square where hundreds of Falungong followers have demonstrated in recent years. Reporters without Borders estimates that at least 50 representatives of the international press have been arrested since July 1999, and some of them were beaten by police. Finally, several Falungong followers have been imprisoned for talking with foreign journalists. Zhang Xueling, whose name was cited in a series of articles by Ian Johnson, Wall Street Journal? correspondent in Beijing, was arrested on 24 April 2001. She was sentenced a few weeks later to three years in a labour camp. Johnson wrote in an article, for which he won a Pulitzer Prize, that this woman had accused police in Shandong province (east of the country) of beating her mother, also a Falungong follower, to death. Ian Johnson did not confirm that the arrest of Zhang Xueling was directly related to his article, but he was sure, after he received a Pulitzer Prize for his articles about Falungong, that, ?he Chinese police would have made my life in Beijing impossible.?Johnson is now a correspondent in Berlin.
On 15 February, it was learned that villagers in Henan province (east of the country) were opposed to the closing of Donglan TV, a very popular pirate television channel. Launched in 2000, it initially broadcast from a 70-meter high transmission tower built in plain sight. Authorities banned this tower in July of the same year, and it was rebuilt in the neighbouring county of Dongmin, where the channel continued broadcasting its programmes made up of movies from Hong Kong, Western music and ?ornographic?movies. Villagers could also broadcast personal messages and commercials.
In late February, the Hong Kong Journalists?Association publicly supported the latest report by the American government on the situation of liberties in Hong Kong. The Association denounced the self-censorship imposed on journalists by the management of publications and ?xternal forces? ?ven though the basic law still protects press freedom, journalists and media practice a great deal of self-censorship, especially when they are discussing the situation in mainland China,?said the document. The Association blamed the Hong Kong government for not supporting press freedom strongly enough. In response to this criticism, Hong Kong authorities said that ?ong Kong media are flourishing and all sorts of information is found in the press.?
On 3 March, Tsang Hin-Chi, a member of the Permanent Committee of the People? Assembly in China, asked Hong Kong media to censor Falungong. At the same time, Beijing authorities were limiting the circulation of some issues of the International Herald Tribune which contained articles about Chinese repression against Falungong.
After the explosion on 6 March of a school in the village of Fanglin, in Jiangxi province, dozens of foreign journalists, photographers and TV crews, as well as some Chinese reporters, were forbidden from going to the site of this accident. An illegal fireworks factory inside a school exploded killing at least 38 pupils and four teachers. Security forces and provincial officials of the Foreign Affairs Office set up roadblocks around the village and banned the press from going to the area. At least three reporters were detained for several hours and forcibly sent back to the nearest town. This occurred as Prime Minister Zhu Rongji gave the press an official version of the blast, that a ?eranged, suicidal?man, identified by the police, entered the school with a bag of explosives. This version contradicted what dozens of Fanglin villagers said over the phone to reporters with international media. The father of one of the victims said: ?he government is trying to cover up the facts. Please don? believe them. Our children were forced to make fireworks during their lunch break.?The illegal factory was organised by one of the teachers whose son was secretary of the village Communist Party Committee. On 12 March, authorities complained about the way international media, and some Chinese media, were covering this accident. ?rresponsible journalists are deforming the truth and attacking China, absurdly violating journalistic ethics.?In the village of Fanglin, police officers threatened inhabitants who spoke with journalists, saying that they could suffer reprisals. But seeing the national and international outcry caused by the lies of the authorities, the Prime Minister presented his apologies to the families of the victims on 15 March, and recognised that local officials could be sanctioned.
On 17 March, the date of the attack against workers?housing in Shijiazhuang (250 kilometres south of Beijing), police prevented foreign journalists from entering this city. Barricades were set up around the capital of Hebei province and security forces turned away dozens of international correspondents. Pierre Haski, correspondent with the French daily Lib?ration, was arrested on 18 March by local police on the site of the attack. The authorities expelled him from Shijiazhuang after questioning him for an hour and erasing the memory of his digital camera.
On 24 March, James Murdoch, president of the television channel Star TV and son of the press magnate Rupert Murdoch, criticised the attitude of Western and Hong Kong media, which, he said, ?ive a negative image of China?by focusing on human rights problems and the issue of Taiwan. The young director of the cable television channel also lashed out at the Falungong movement and Hong Kong democrats who ?o not accept reality? which means submitting to Beijing. A few months later, the Murdoch press group signed an agreement with the Beijing regime to broadcast one of its channels in China.
On 26 March, the Shanghai Radio, Film and Television Administration warned Internet users that no audiovisual documents could be published on the Internet unless they were vetted by a government department.
On 9 April, the permanent mission of the People? Republic of China to the United Nations in Geneva attempted to block a press conference of followers of the Falungong movement organised by the Association of Accredited Correspondents to the United Nations. The first secretary of the mission, Hu Ping, sent a threatening letter to the president of this association, the Polish journalist Tomasz Surdel, who he criticised for ?is suspicious personality and behaviour? The Chinese diplomat threatened reprisals against the association if the planned conference was not cancelled. In spite of these threats, the conference was held in the association? library, which has extraterritorial status with the United Nations.
Ten days after the publication, on 10 April, of an article on Falungong demonstrations in Hong Kong, the American magazine Time was withdrawn from sale in China. The Chinese public company in charge of press distribution told the magazine? management that it had no plans to redistribute the magazine in China. This ban came several weeks after Jiang Zemin participated in a forum of business leaders organised by the magazine Fortune, which, like Time, is published by AOL-Time Warner. The ban was lifted at the end of April.
After the publication, on 2 May, of an interview with journalist and economist He Qinglian, the Ministry of Communication threatened to sanction the staff of the newspaper Yangchen Evening News, published in Guangzhou. Managers of this newspaper were asked to criticize their ?oor behaviour? He Qinglian, age 42, is on the Chinese government? blacklist because of her liberal positions. The authorities have banned all of her publications. Two weeks earlier, they had banned the publication of her last work, ?e are still looking at the starry sky? The journalist ironically analysed the political theories of President Jiang and denounced the social divide in China. Police officers searched the offices of the ?ijiang?publishing company in Guilin (Guangxi province). On 14 June, He Qinglian, who felt threatened, left China to take refuge in the United States. She refused to speak to international media out of fear of reprisals against her family.
On 10 May, the Shenzhen authority in charge of publications and the Shenzhen municipal communist party committee banned the sale of Nanfang Dushi Bao published by the Guangdong provincial party committee. The authorities said this decision was necessary to ?lear the market of pornographic, counter-revolutionary and illegal content.?According to Nanfang Dushi Bao articles quoted by the Hong Kong iMail, this ban was announced because of the newspaper? popularity in the special economic zone, neighbouring Hong Kong. Shenzhen authorities were allegedly trying to eliminate a competitor of their local newspapers, whose editorial content escaped their control. The editors of Nanfang Dushi Bao extensively reported and criticised this ban. More than 200 people were contracted to sell the newspaper in the streets of the city. According to a Hong Kong newspaper, Shenzhen authorities also banned Wen Wei Po and Ta Kung Pao, two of the rare Hong Kong dailies authorised in the city, in the same week. This could be a way to promote a newspaper they control, the Hong Kong Commercial Daily. Finally, the Shenzhen media administration allegedly excluded from the special economic zone the local daily Southern Metropolitan News, also to eliminate competition against local newspapers. The Southern Metropolitan News was also strongly criticised by authorities in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province, after it published a list of the ten most polluted cities in the world that included Guangzhou. The Communist Party ?ublicity?director ordered the immediate halt of this criticism. After asking that an investigation be opened, the City of Guangzhou said that it reserved the right to take the necessary sanctions against the newspaper.
On 19 May, two of the main newspapers in Sichuan province, Shangwu Zaobao (Morning Business) and Shubao (Shu Newspaper; Shu is the former name for Sichuan province), were closed. The government decided to apply its policy of ?tructural adjustments?to these two newspapers that were hurting the sales of Sichuan Ribao, the Communist Party? official organ in the province. More than one 150 journalists were fired and investors would not be reimbursed.
On 24 May, the government reinforced its control over cable television channels. The central Radio, Film and Television Administration ordered that the country? 3,000 cable television networks be incorporated into provincial or municipal television networks before the end of June. The objective was to eliminate the autonomy that some cable television channels had.
In early June, the authorities took sanctions against the staff of the weekly Nanfang Zhoumo (Southern Weekend ) published in Guangzhou (south of the country). Chang Ping, front page news editor, was removed from the newspaper? editorial staff because he was allegedly ill and unable to work. Qian Gang, editor-in-chief of the newspaper, was reportedly transferred to another post in the group which publishes Nanfang Zhoumo. In January 2000, Qian Gang replaced Jiang Yiping, the former editor-in-chief, who had been forced to leave her post for writing articles the authorities considered subversive. Other journalists have been investigated by the State News and Publications Bureau (part of the country? central government). Nanfang Zhoumo was criticised for publishing a long article on a criminal, Zhang Jun, whose gang killed more than 25 people. The author of the article wrote that these people? criminal careers could be explained by the fact that they grew up in poverty. The newspaper also implicated government officials in corruption and economic problems in rural areas. Nanfang Zhoumo is one of the newspapers most critical of the Chinese regime. In March 2001, it opposed the governmental line by stating that the death of 40 children in a school in Jiangxi province occurred because they were forced to make fireworks.
On 4 June, during the World Association of Newspapers (WAN) Congress in Hong Kong, Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa defended the situation of press freedom in China. He was responding to a speech by Robert Parkinson, president of WAN, who denounced the repression against critical journalists and cyber-dissidents. ?o truly understand China, you must understand its culture, its history and the path it is following. I am sure that if you saw this yourself, your opinions would change,?said Tung.
On 6 June, officials of the Guangxi province ?ublicity?Department closed the Guangxi Business Daily because it was not controlled by a state institution. This newspaper, with a circulation of 200,000, had become very popular in the province, overshadowing newspapers published by the Party. The Guangxi Business Daily had a tendency to criticise the local government too often, according to one journalist of the very official Guangxi Daily. On 11 June, some 100 employees of the newspaper demonstrated against the newspaper? closing. The police quickly broke up the demonstration with nightsticks.
On 11 June, Ma Yunlong, assistant editor-in-chief of the daily Dahe Bao, was fired after a report by the provincial ?ublicity?department was made public, which said that the journalist had written two articles criticising the attitude of officials of Henan province. The Dahe Bao, with a circulation of 700,000, had published an article entitled ?ream Creatures Invade the Medical Insurance Conference?in March 2001. This article described how pharmaceutical companies paid women to influence the decisions of provincial health department officials by giving them sexual favours. The second article, entitled ?oreign Investors Complain about Bad Administration? presented criticisms of businessmen against the city of Zhoukou, considered corrupt and incompetent. Local authorities also warned Ma Guoqiang, editor-in-chief of the newspaper. In the same month, the Henan province propaganda department launched an important campaign for ?deological reeducation? called ?arxist journalism? Almost 1,000 journalists attended this reeducation class for three months, then took a test. The authorities told them that if they failed they could be fired.
In mid-June, the Jiangsu province (east of the country) ?ublicity?Department closed down the Morning Business Daily (based in Nanjing) for publishing an ironic article about President Jiang Zemin. The newspaper said the Chinese President favoured the city of Shanghai, the city where he had been mayor, in his political choices.. Propaganda officials said that the publication of this article was a ?erious political mistake?
In July, Chinese authorities intensified the jamming of foreign radio stations in Tibet to prevent ?he infiltration of hostile foreign forces over the airwaves.?The radio stations Voice of America, Radio Free Asia and Voice of Tibet, which cover international news, the activities of the Dalai Lama, and the Tibetan community in exile, are increasingly difficult to receive in Tibet.
On 2 July, some 200 managing editors and editors-in-chief of China? leading publications were summoned to Beijing to attend a two-day conference to study Party directives on handling information. This ?orking meeting?was called after leaders were ?orried?about ?riticism?from the intellectual elite. During the meeting, journalists were warned that the regime would be less lenient with publications that strayed from the Party line. Authorities gave examples of publications that had already been sanctioned: the magazine Jinri Mingliu (Celebrities Today) for publishing an article about the ?ang of Four?(Maoist leaders in the 1980s); the Morning Business Daily (Jiangsu province) for publishing a satiric caricature of Jiang Zemin; the Guangxi Business Daily, accused of being a privately-owned newspaper; and the magazine Hunan Shipin (Hunan Food) for publishing ?alse news?
In late July, Yao Xiaohong, editor-in-chief of the daily Metropolitan Consumer News in Nanchang (Jiangxi province, south-east of the country), was fired for publishing information about organs being removed from the body of an executed prisoner without his family? authorisation. According to one official of the newspaper, Yao Xiaohong resigned after recognising that he had violated ?ditorial laws? A former colleague said that the reasons for his resignation were ?oo sensitive to be revealed? The article in question was published in April in the newspaper, and then later on the People? Daily web site.
On 30 July, the American State Department protested against edits made to an interview with Colin Powell, filmed by the state television channel CCTV during his recent visit to China. Two long segments dealing with human rights and relations with Taiwan were cut out of the interview; these are two sensitive issues between Beijing and Washington. US State Department spokesman Charles Hunter called these measures ?ounter-productive?and ?ut of place? The American government said they had received an explicit guarantee from Beijing that the interview with the Secretary of State would be broadcast unedited.
In early August, guards of the Lajiapo and Longshan mines (near Nandan, in Guangxi province) threatened journalists who were attempting to obtain information on an accident that cost the lives of dozens of miners. On 31 July, a Shanghai newspaper had announced that hundreds of workers were blocked in the mines after water pipes had broken. Dozens of Chinese journalists went to Nandan and the area around the mines to get more information. But the owner of the mines and local authorities refused to provide any information and posted security guards to prevent workers from talking to reporters. The government also denied that this accident occurred. Under the pressure from official newspapers, which published articles on this incident, the Party sent a task force to investigate. Several days later, the owner of the mines and several local officials were arrested for attempting to cover up this accident, which killed more than eighty miners. The official in charge of the investigation even thanked the media for revealing this accident.
On 8 August, the State television channel announced that the government had published a list of ?even forbidden subjects?for the press: criticising the essential role of Marxism, the ideas of Mao Zedong and the theories of Jiang Zemin; opposing the Communist Party? main principles and policies; revealing State secrets and threatening national security; opposing official policies concerning national and religious minorities or threatening national unity; approving murder, violence, obscenity, superstition or pseudo-science; circulating rumours or falsifying news; violating Party discipline and currently applicable press laws. Prepared by the state Administration of Press and Publications, this new directive was allegedly sent to directors of state media in January. The government planned a sliding scale of sanctions in case of violations. The media accused of an offence would first receive a warning. If the violation occurred again, the managing editor would be fired. If it continued, the media would be shut down. Finally, Beijing authorities would prevent any local authority (city, autonomous region or province) from launching new media for one year if two or more media in their jurisdiction were sanctioned for offences or subversion. Observers said the goal of these measures was to incite local authorities to better control regional media.
On 14 August, the publication of the monthly Zhenli de Zhuiqiu (The Search for Truth), a Marxist theoretical magazine, was suspended by Chinese authorities. The magazine distinguished itself by contesting the ideological evolution of the regime imposed by the Chinese president, who wished to anchor the Party more among the economic elite and no longer exclusively on the working class. The magazine published an article in May entitled ?n International Joke. Capitalists Join the Communist Party.?A letter circulating on web sites accused President Jiang Zemin of ?etraying Communism? A source close to the magazine said that Party officials ordered the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, who funded the publication, to stop providing funding because of these articles.
On 16 September, the Beijing ?ublicity?Department sent a circular to the country? media asking them to not take sides in their coverage of the 11 September terrorist attacks in the United States. ?e must only report the facts. All value judgements, such as condemning terrorists or supporting American vengeance, is forbidden,?said the document.
In October, high-level Party officials in Tibet again said that Mandarin and Tibetan programmes of the independent radio station Voice of Tibet ?hould be stopped once and for all.?As a conduit of information on the Tibetan cause, the radio broadcasts to China and Tibet, and must regularly change the frequencies of its programmes to avoid Chinese jamming.
On 5 October, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent a letter to most foreign correspondents based in Beijing to tell them that the city of Taxkorgan, near Afghanistan, was off-limits to journalists. Fr?d?ric Bobin, correspondent with the French daily Le Monde, had just researched an unauthorised story in this area. On 8 October, China closed its border with Afghanistan and forbade journalists from going to border zones.
On 16 October, China stopped blocking access to the web sites of several major American media, including the New York Times and the Washington Post, on the occasion of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Forum in Shanghai. Access to other sites the Chinese government considered sensitive, such as the BBC or the Falungong spiritual movement, were still blocked to both Chinese Internet users and foreign journalists covering the Summit. On 29 October, after US President George W. Bush left Shanghai, Chinese authorities again blocked access to sites such as CNN and the Washington Post.
On 16 October, the Zhejiang newsgroup on the Chinese web site Xici.net, reserved for Chinese journalists, was closed by Beijing authorities. The site was accused of ?ublishing subversive information? and ?landering State officials and bodies? Under pressure from authorities, the webmaster of the newsgroup was fired and the site? managers strengthened their control over other newsgroups. In China, site administrators are responsible for the content of their forums and chat rooms. The authorities refused to answer questions from the foreign press on the closure of Zhejiang, which occurred during the APEC Summit in Shanghai.
On 1 November, authorities in Shenzhen province shut down and confiscated the equipment of an ?llegal?television station in the village of Gangxia. According to the newspaper Nanfang Dushi Bao, this television station clandestinely broadcast Chinese and foreign programmes to its subscribers.
On 13 December, a Beijing newspaper announced that local authorities were giving residents of the capital until 20 December to eliminate pirate satellite connections to foreign television channels. The article reminded that Chinese are forbidden by law from receiving foreign television stations without special authorisation, and that those who violated this could be fined up to 6,000 euros. Cable and satellite television operators would also be sanctioned if they sold access to these channels, reserved exclusively for expatriates and some administrations.
On 21 December, the Beijing Audiovisual Bureau announced that universities, public institutions (except for ministries), hotels and foreigners would have to file new requests to continue to receive foreign television channels by satellite. Hotels would have to prove that at least 80% of their guests were foreigners, and universities would have to show that their research required that they receive foreign television channels. The personnel of Beijing? universities received an order to cut off the reception of these channels on 23 December while awaiting new authorisations.
In 2001, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs systematically refused authorisations for foreign correspondents based in Beijing who wanted to visit Henan province, where an AIDS epidemic had developed. One French journalist said that the Chinese authorities replied, after each request, that ?he families of the sick people do not want to see journalists? and ?here is enough information in the Chinese press.?In November, on the occasion of the first AIDS conference in China, the Reuters press agency interviewed a person with AIDS from Henan province, who confirmed that the authorities were not helping the sick. However, those who fought for the epidemic to be recognised were threatened and local journalists were censored if they attempted to expose this problem. Wang Li, journalist with the local newspaper Dahe Bao, has been censored since 1999 for revealing the epidemic. Zheng Jicheng, journalist with the daily Zhengzhou Wanbao, has still not found a new job after being fired in spring 2000. He wrote an article about the work of Gao Yaojie, a Henan doctor who was fighting to obtain official recognition of the epidemic. Finally, the authorities changed the telephone numbers of the inhabitants of the village of Wenlou (the epicentre of the epidemic) so journalists could not contact them. Nevertheless, journalists with the BBC, Agence France-Presse, the New York Times and the French daily Lib?ration went to Henan villages in 2001
without authorisation. Hundreds of thousands of inhabitants were contaminated during blood drives organised in the 1990s by authorities and private companies. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs called all of these journalists to order after their stories were published. Finally, in August 2001, official Beijing media published articles on the epidemic.
President Jiang Zemin has been denounced as a predator of press freedom by Reporters Without Borders.