(TibetanReview.net, Dec09’21) – China has increased the number of sensitive topics that are deemed off-limit for journalists and has detained or jailed at least 127 of them, making it the “world’s biggest captor of journalists”, said Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) in a new investigative report Dec 8.
“Not only those typically deemed “sensitive” – such as Tibet, Taiwan or corruption – are subject to censorship, but also natural disasters, the #MeToo movement or even recognition of health professionals during the Covid-19 crisis,” the report said.
“At least 127 journalists (professional and non-professional) are currently detained by the regime,” the report said. “The simple act of investigating a ‘sensitive’ topic or publishing censored information can result in years of detention in unsanitary prisons, where ill-treatment can lead to death,” the international press watchdog said.
At 71, Uyghur journalists from Xinjiang, a major focus of Chinese repression since 2016, make up more than half of those under detention, the report said.
Accusing the country of conducting an ”unprecedented campaign of repression,” the 82-page document, “An unprecedented RSF investigation: The Great Leap Backwards of Journalism in China”, says China has forced journalists to become the mouthpiece of the Communist Party.
The party-state requires journalists to undergo a 90-hour annual training which partly focuses on Xi Jinping’s “Thought” in order to receive and renew their press cards.
This is in addition to the existing requirement for them to download the “Study Xi, strengthen the country” propaganda application that can collect their personal data.
Foreign journalists working in the country have also not been spared. The report noted that in 2020, China’s intimidation of foreign reporters, based on surveillance and visa blackmail, forced 18 of them to leave the country.
The same year saw China arrest “at least ten journalists and online commentators for the simple act of informing the public about the Covid-19 crisis in Wuhan,” the report said.
Besides, in February this year, the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China (FCCC) said China used coronavirus prevention measures, intimidation and visa curbs to limit foreign reporting in 2020, citing responses to an annual survey of correspondents and interviews with bureau chiefs.