China: Reporting Restrained for National People’s Congress
November 2, 2012
Public Interest Reporting Restrained in China Ahead of National People’s Congress
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is concerned by a series of recent restrictions on the Chinese media’s ability to report on issues of public concern, as well as the blocking of news sites throughout October.
While the new leadership of China’s Politburo is set to be selected on November 8, the IFJ has received reports that China’s Central Authority has censored a number of stories of public concern.
On October 25, the Chinese Authority reportedly blocked The New York Times English and Chinese-language official websites in China, after they published an investigative report into the assets of Premier Wen Jiabo and his family.
The report disclosed the extraordinary growth of Wen’ family’s assets during his time in power, revealing that the family is in control of at least USD $2.7 billion.
Wen has denied having had any financial advantage during his position as Premier and China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson said the story “blackens China’s name and has ulterior motives”.
Following this, on October 28, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress announced that all public duties of former Chongqing party secretary Bo Xilai had been terminated.
According to the official report, Bo is set to be expelled from the party, subject to the approval of the Central Committee.
All media in China has been strictly prohibited from publishing independent reports on the case of Bo Xi Lai since the scandal was exposed earlier this year.
Bo was the secretary of the CPC Chongqing Municipal Committee and also a Political Bureau member.
On October 29, Chinese local media was also prevented from reporting independently on the week-long protests of thousands of citizens in Ningobo, a seaport city in the northeast of China’s Zhejiang province.
Reports were restricted to republications of official news reports on the citizen protests against an oil refinery and chemical plant, which had raised public health fears.
Reportedly, the local government has since decided to suspend the project, saying additional “scientific assessments” are needed. Official news reports, however, did not mention the concern of the public, or the detention of several protesters.
Associated Press journalists were prevented from taking photos of the protests by authorities.
“The citizens of China have a right to access information that is in their interest” said the IFJ Asia Pacific.
“As the role of China increases in the international community, it must take seriously its commitments to freedom of expression and press freedom as enshrined in its own constitution.”
Article 35 of the Chinese Constitution enshrines press freedom, freedom of speech, and the right of the people to information.
We urge the Central Authority of China to uphold Article 35 of the Chinese Constitution and allow a genuinely free press that is able to report unfettered in the public interest.
The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries
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