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China 2 June 2003

Xinhua staff punished with housing allowance cut

The management of the government news agency Xinhua has announced without any warning or prior consultation that the housing allowance of many of its staff will be cut this month. Without the full allowance, usually between 500 and 800 yuan a month, many of the agency’s journalists will be unable to pay their rent and will have to find somewhere much cheaper to live. Staff describe the cut as a further repressive measure aimed at punishing the agency’s international section for revealing confidential information about SARS at the end of April. About 500 employees are affected. Journalists at the Beijing bureau are up in arms and a petition is currently circulation within the agency asking the management to reconsider. Some journalists are reluctant to sign, fearing further reprisals. Others plan to look for another job.


04.28.2003

State news agency staff sacked after publication of item about SARS

Reporters Without Borders protested today against the dismissal of a senior editor at the official news agency Xinhua and the head of the agency’s foreign desk for publishing a government advisory on measures taken against the SARS virus. All foreign desk staff also had their pay docked for three months.

"The item in question was put out in the interest of curbing the virus and its revelation did not in any way undermine law and order," said the organisation’s secretary-general Robert Ménard. "The reaction is part of the authorities’ attitude to SARS of right from the beginning of the epidemic trying to hush up any negative news about it."

He called on the agency’s management to reinstate the dismissed senior editor, Yang Zidi, and the foreign desk chief and to cancel the disciplinary measure against the staff.

The ruling Communist Party’s central committee and the national committee of the CPC, the country’s top advisory body, had issued a document a few days ago which Yang decided to put out on the agency’s wire. However, the original document carried a code indicating it was confidential, which Yang did not know about.

The two committees called for the editors responsible to be punished. They are expected to be given posts elsewhere in the agency.




In this country
3 June - China
“Tank Man” photo displayed outside Chinese embassy in Paris on eve of Tiananmen Square massacre
2 June - China
All references to Tiananmen Square massacre closely censored for 20 years
12 May - China
Foreign reporters prevented from working in Sichuan a year after earthquake
24 April - China
Concern that detained Tibetan magazine editor is being tortured
25 March - China
Government blocks access to YouTube

in the annual report
China - Annual report 2008
China - Annual report 2007
China - Annual report 2006

reports
4 May 2009 - Nepal
Mission report : A call to end violence and impunity
2 April 2009 - Pakistan
Fact-finding visit by Reporters Without Borders to Swat “valley of fear”
16 March 2009 - Afghanistan
Report of fact-finding mission : Press freedom in free-fall in run-up to presidential election
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Asia press releases
3 June - North Korea
Pyongyang judges asked to be lenient with two American journalists
3 June - Afghanistan
US forces arrest a journalist in Khost
2 June - China
Blocking of Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and Blogger deprives Chinese of Web 2.0
2 June - Sri Lanka
Press freedom activist badly beaten in Colombo, hospitalised
29 May - Sri Lanka
Journalists trying to cover fate of Tamils are threatened, obstructed