With just 100 days to go to the start of the Beijing Olympic Games on 8 August, Reporters Without Borders today called on the Chinese authorities to take rapid and effective measures to improve the situation of press freedom and online free expression in a lasting manner.
The press freedom organisation also released a report on the fate of imprisoned journalists and cyber-dissidents in China and the impact on the foreign press of a government-orchestrated campaign to rally nationalistic fervour.
After staging peaceful demonstrations at the London, Paris, San Francisco and Nagano legs of the Olympic torch relay, Reporters Without Borders has decided not to demonstrate in Hong Kong when the torch is carried through the city on 2 May.
“We will refrain from demonstrating on 2 May in Hong Kong in order to allow the resumption of dialogue with the Chinese authorities,” the press freedom organisation said today. “We know that certain senior government officials are making an effort to find a solution to the current crisis, by giving priority inter alia to the release of prisoners of conscience.”
Reporters Without Borders added: “Our contacts in Beijing have told us that dialogue is again possible and that there could be concrete gestures of a human rights nature. We would like to help facilitate these initiatives.”
The Reporters Without Borders list of nine things the Chinese authorities must do before the Beijing Olympic Games:
1. Release all journalists and Internet users detained in China for exercising their right to information.
2. Allow the foreign press freedom of movement, including in Tibet and Xinjiang, and freedom to interview whomever they wish, both until and beyond October 2008.
3. Disband the Publicity Department (the former Propaganda Department), which exercises daily control over content in the Chinese press.
4. End the jamming of foreign radio stations.
5. End the blocking of thousands of news and information websites based abroad.
6. Suspend the "11 Commandments of the Internet," which lead to content censorship and self-censorship on websites.
7. End the blacklisting of journalists and human rights activists, which prevents them from visiting China.
8. Lift the ban on Chinese media using foreign news agency video footage and news reports without permission.
9. Legalize independent organisations of journalists and human rights activists.
The Foreign Correspondents Club of China (FCCC) issued a press release today condemning the death threats received by at least 10 foreign correspondents based in China and the serious restrictions imposed on the work of the media in Tibet.
The FCCC also quoted six sports journalists as criticising the lack of sincere cooperation from the organisers of the games, difficulties in accessing athletes and Chinese officials and inconsistencies in the information provided to the media.
Press freedom in China three months before the Olympics