On the occasion of the visit to France, from 26 to 28 September, of the Chinese Prime Minister, Zhu Rongji, Reporters Without Borders has written to Jacques Chirac and Jean-Pierre Raffarin asking them to "do all they can to ensure that the question of the freedom of the press does not remain the poor relation in discussions with China". "Human rights, and especially freedom of expression, are still today one of the major forgotten aspects of the opening-up professed by this country. But the complacent silence of China’s international interlocutors on these issues is just as serious and reprehensible. More than a sad mark of indifference, it amounts to tacit support for the practices of the Chinese regime," adds Robert Ménard, Secretary-General of the organisation.
China ranks fourth among the jailers of journalists globally, with to date at least 11 journalists in prison for having exercised their right to seek, receive and impart information. In addition, intimidation, censorship, confiscation of their publications or purely and simply deportation, make up the day-to-day experience of foreign journalists and correspondents working in this country.
China is also the number one ravager of freedom of information on the Internet. Thirty cyber-dissidents are currently in prison for having published information regarded by the authorities as over-critical. The promulgation in 2000 of drastic legislation on the Internet was moreover the starting-point for an unprecedented crackdown, which led to the suspension of numerous web sites and of two search engines, Google and Altavista, a wave of closures of Internet bars - more than 2000 in June this year - and strict surveillance of Internet users.