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IFJ Press Freedom in China Campaign Bulletin: April 9, 2013

April 9, 2013

IFJ Press Freedom in China Campaign Bulletin

Welcome to IFJ Asia-Pacific’s monthly Press Freedom in China Campaign e-bulletin. The next bulletin will be sent on May 8 2013, and contributions are welcome.

To contribute news or information, email ifj@ifj-asia.org To visit the IFJ’s China Campaign page, go to www.ifj.org

1. Deputy Editor suspended after he commented on Chinese foreign policy
Deng Yuwen, deputy editor of Study Times, a weekly journal of the Communist Central Party School, was suspended from his position after he wrote an article in the Financial Times online on 27 February encouraging China to abandon its support for North Korea. According to an April 2 report of the New York Times, Deng told the South Korean newspaper Chosun Iibo that he received a complaint from the Foreign Ministry after he published the article in the Financial Times. In the article he provided five reasons to support his argument that China should abandon its support to North Korea. He suggested that China should encourage and pursue the unification of Korea and further stating that if Korea unifies, it would reduce the chances of an alliance being formed between the US, Korea and Japan. He also suggested that the tensions faced by China in North-Eastern Asia would be reduced and that a satisfactory resolution of the situation vis-à-vis Taiwan could be achieved through this policy.

2. Hong Kong journalists assaulted when visiting Liu Xia
Journalists from Hong Kong who were attempting to report on Liu Xia, wife of Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo, were assaulted by several unidentified people in Mainland China. Additionally, others who were providing information to the journalists about Liu Xia were illegally detained by the police. On March 8, journalists from Television Broadcasting of Hong Kong, Radio Television of Hong Kong, Commercial Radio and Now Television together with a Hong Kong activist Yang Kuang, arrived at the Haidan District, Beijing, house where Liu Xia has living been under house arrest for more than two years. As they arrived, they were pushed and assaulted by a group of unidentified people. TVB cameraman, Tam Wing-Man, and Now TV cameraman Wong Kim-Fai were punched and kicked, with Tam suffering head, chest and leg injuries. The assault sparked an outcry from hundreds of journalists, students and legislators, who joined representatives of the IFJ, in sending a letter of protest to the Chinese Liaison Office. The Hong Kong Journalists Association, an IFJ affiliate, and the Hong Kong Press Photographers Association, organised the protest to demand for a thorough investigation of the assault.

3. Restrictive Order prohibits media reports of thousands of pig deaths
A restrictive order was issued to all media in China after sudden death of thousands of pigs in Shanghai and Zhejiang province. Since March 5, dramatic numbers of pig carcasses have been discovered in waterways around districts of Songjiang, Jinshan, Minhang and Fengxian , Shanghai, and Zhejiang province. On March 14, media outlets received an order from the Central Propaganda Department that they prohibit independent reporting and commentary on the issue. Instead, media outlets were directed to republish Xinhua’s report. Although the authority’s denied having found any viruses in the water or cases that affected humans, they did not report whether they had conducted a thorough investigation. According to Chapter 3 of the Animal Epidemic Prevention Law, the authority has a duty to report outbreaks to the public in a timely fashion.

4. Announcement of deadly avian flu epidemic delayed
At least six people have died after the outbreak of a strain of avian flu in Mainland China but there was a delay in informing the public. On March 31, the National Health and Family Planning Commission announced that three patients were infected by H7N9 avian influenza with two people reported dead in Shanghai, the third case in Anhui is still in critical condition. Between April 2 to 5, four more people were reportedly affected in Shanghai and East China. The accumulated number of infections is twenty-one according to an announcement by the Commission on April 8. The earliest infection was reported on February 19 and the patient died on March 4 but the death was not announced by the National Health and Family Planning Commission until March 31. When queried about the delay in releasing the information the Commission explained that the virus did not fall into the category requiring public announcement under Chinese law. However according to Chapter 3 of Law of Prevention and Treatment of Infectious Diseases and Chapter 2 of Regulations of the People’s Republic of China on Open Government Information, all departments have a responsibility to report unidentified infectious diseases in a timely manner when the information involves vital interests of citizens.

5. One thousand Chinese ask the Standing Committee of PRC to ratify ICCPR
Around a thousand Chinese citizens signed a joint statement to urge the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress in China to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in order to protect and promote freedom of the press. China signed the ICCPR 14 years ago, but has still not ratified the Covenant. In the statement, they urged the Central Committee to ratify the ICCPR, a key international human rights treaty. The ICCPR will obligate China to protect and preserve basic human rights such as the right to life and to human dignity, equality before the law, freedom of speech, assembly and association, religious freedom and privacy and freedom from torture, among others.

6. Director of RTHK accused politically interfering in editorial independence
Sze Wing-yuen, a senior employee with the public broadcaster Hong Kong Radio and Television (RTHK) says he and his colleagues have experienced political interference in their editorial coverage. On March 15, RTHK staff met after the director - broadcasting Roy Tang Yun-Kwong and accused him of political interference in the editorial independence of television programmes. Roy Tang repeatedly denied exerting any political pressure on RTHK staff. Sze said he and his colleagues had experienced political pressure on several occasions. Sze refused to explain further unless he was granted privilege under Legislative Council (Powers and Privileges) Ordinance to reveal more about the incidents to Hong Kong’s Legislative Council. It is unusual that media employees voluntarily seek a special hearing at the Legislative Council to investigate a case. One of the accusations related to the political satire programme Headliner which was quizzed over why it had used Nazi characters in an episode. Tang is also accused of abruptly scrapping a programme analysing local government policy and legislators. The IFJ urges the Panel on Information Technology and Broadcasting to set up a special meeting to investigate the turmoil inside RTHK and to take steps to protect the editorial independence of the RTHK and ensure no-one engages in political interference.

Serenade Woo
IFJ Project Manager
IFJ Asia-Pacific
asiapacific.ifj.org
ifj@ifj-asia.org
ifjchina@ifj-asia.org

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries
Find the IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific
Find the IFJ on Facebook: www.facebook.com/IFJAsiaPacific

ENDS

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