Reporters Without Borders voiced dismay about a new scheme proposed by the Chinese Communist Party Propaganda Department to put newspapers on a penalty points’ system.
The new system, revealed today by a newspaper in Hong Kong, consolidates the bringing to heel of the media undertaken by President Hu Jintao in the name of a “harmonious society”.
“This project of a penalty points’ licence for the press could seem funny if it was not in fact another type of sanctions that will end in more suspensions and bans. We urge the government, particularly the prime minister Wen Jiabao, to oppose this plan,” the worldwide press freedom organisation said.
The South China Morning Post in Hong Kong revealed on 9 February that a new system of sanctions had been presented to editors of state-run newspapers by the propaganda department. Each publication would start with 12 points, which could then be deducted for each “wrongdoing”.
A surveillance group made up of officials from the Propaganda Department and the General Administration of Press and Publications would be tasked with sanctioning offending media, according to the seriousness of the mistake. Once a media had lost all its points, its management would be punished in their turn.
2006 was marked by a series of measures designed to discipline editorial departments seen by the propaganda department as too liberal.