IFJ Press Freedom in China Campaign Bulletin: August 2011
IFJ Press Freedom in China Campaign Bulletin
August 8, 2011
Welcome to IFJ Asia-Pacific’s monthly Press Freedom in China Campaign e-bulletin. The next bulletin will be sent on September 8, 2011, and contributions are most welcome.
Please distribute this bulletin widely among colleagues in the media.
1. IFJ Concerned by China Rail Disaster Censorship
The IFJ demanded the immediate reinstatement of a China Central Television producer who was suspended from his job over coverage of a high-speed rail disaster in Wenzhou, in China’s east. Wang Qinglei, producer of 24 Hours, was suspended on July 27 after the program’s host queried the Railway Ministry’s speedy resolution of the July 23 accident in which at least 40 people were killed. The host also questioned officials’ dismissal on July 26 of safety concerns about China’s high-speed rail network. Another program, News 1+1, also on China Central Television, was suddenly taken off the network’s schedule on July 26 without explanation, after criticism of a Railway Ministry spokesman on the program on July 25. After six days of relatively unfettered media coverage, the Central Propaganda Department issued an order to all media on July 29, following an order from the Guangdong Propaganda Department on July 24 demanding local media outlets remove journalists from the accident scene.
2. Investigative Journalists Suspended
Renowned investigative journalist Wang Keqin and five colleagues were suddenly suspended from duties at China Economic Times on July 18. Editor-in-chief Zhang Jianjing was also moved from the newspaper to the Development Research Centre, controlled by the State Council of China, which publishes an annual report on economic growth. Zhang’s reassignment is believed to have been motivated by his support for the investigative reporting of Wang and his colleagues. China Economic Times, which is under DRC control, announced on July 18 that it would ramp up its coverage on economic issues. Zhang is now working for Caixin Media.
3. Journalist Alleges Email Account Hacked
The Google email account of Caixin Media investigative journalist Zhao Hejuan was reportedly infiltrated between July 19 and 22 after she went to Shaoyang, Hunan Province, to inquire into the illegal trafficking of children. The hacker’s IP address is in Longhui County, Shaoyang, Hunan Province. Zhao went to Hunan to follow up a Caixin report on May 8 in which it was alleged that officials of the National Population and Family Planning Commission had removed babies and toddlers from families, supposedly because the families had violated China’s one-child policy. The children were allegedly trafficked abroad. Zhao, accompanied by a lawyer, reported the hacking to her local police station on July 22. Police said they would hand the case to the public security office in Chao Yang, Beijing, and provide a response as soon as possible. The IFJ urges police to conduct a swift and thorough investigation into the hacking allegation.
4. Writers Barred from Attending Hong Kong Event
Six writers and scholars were prohibited from leaving the mainland to attend the 10-year anniversary of Independent Chinese PEN in Hong Kong on July 23. The group included an executive board member of Independent Chinese PEN, Zan Aizong; Hangzhou lawyer and writer Zhuang Daohe, who has been banned from leaving China since 2009; Beijing journalism professor Jiao Guobiao, who lost his job after writing a critique of the Communist Party; poet and film scholar Cui Weiping, who was barred from attending a film conference in the United States in 2010; and writers He Yuongquan and Liu Di. The IFJ calls on China’s authorities to respect the Central Government’s promise to uphold the right to free speech and to access information.
5. IFJ Urges Transparency on Xinjiang Clashes
The IFJ urged authorities in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region to release all information and allow journalists to report freely on clashes in Kashgar, western China, in July. Xinjiang government-controlled Tianshannet.com.cn reported on July 30 and 31 that 10 people were killed (including eight shot by police) after two blasts in Kashgar over the two days. A further 40 people, including several police, were reportedly injured. It was also reported that four people were killed in knife attacks on July 31, following which police shot dead five suspects, while on August 1, state-owned news agency Xinhua reported that police had shot two alleged terrorists.
6. Concerns Over Detention of Journalists In Hong Kong
The IFJ joined Amnesty International (Hong Kong) and the Asian Human Rights Commission to express concerns about the detention of journalists and human rights defenders who were observing protests in Hong Kong on July 1. Kiri Choi, an intern with New Tang Dynasty Television, and David Cheung, a citizen journalist with Green Radio, were detained by police on the night of July 1 after they took photos of police escorting protesters from a demonstration earlier that day. They told the IFJ they had informed police of their profession but did not have their press cards when questioned. They were arrested and detained at a police station in Aberdeen for more than 10 hours. The joint statement also protested the detention of Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor Director Yuk Kai Law, who was monitoring police behaviour at the demonstration.
7. Journalist’s Jail Sentence Extended by Eight Years
Prominent anti-corruption journalist Qi Chonghuai, 46, was sentenced on June 9 to an additional eight years’ jail on the eve of completing a four-year jail term. Qi, who had worked at various mainland media outlets including Legal System Daily, was sentenced to the extended incarceration by Tengzhou Court, Shangdong, in eastern China on accusations of extortion, blackmail and fraud. Defence lawyers said the sentence relied on evidence already used to convict Qi of identical charges in 2008. Qi’s application to appeal to the Intermediate People’s Court in Zaozhuang, Shandong, was refused in mid-July..
8. Citizen Journalist Detained in Beijing Province
Citizen journalist Wang Yuqin was sent to a labour re-education camp on June 27 for up to two years, after being detained for two weeks in June when she demanded her husband Yang Qiuyu receive medical treatment while being held at a police detention centre, according to news portal Civil Rights and Livelihood Watch. Wang is a journalist with the news portal. Meanwhile, an online journalist and administrator with the portal, Liu Feiyue, was reportedly assaulted by an agent of Hubei Province authorities on July 31. Police reportedly did not investigate the case when Liu disclosed he was an activist. Liu said he did not know why he was attacked, but said the agent mistakenly believed that he had arranged a memorial meeting for victims of the Wenzhou train crash on July 30. It was the third attack on Liu by local authorities since July 7, 2010. Since 2007 he has not been permitted to leave China.
9. Apple and Baidu Accused of Copyright Infringement
A union set up in March to protect Chinese writers’ rights, Protection of the Rights of Chinese Writers, warned computer company Apple and China’s largest search engine Baidu on July 20 of legal action if they continued to infringe the copyright of writers. The companies provide services that allow copyrighted material to be downloaded without the consent of authors. According to New Beijing, the union said Apple had made available for download the work of six writers while Baidu had made available work by nine writers. The union demands the companies cease the services and pay damages to the writers. Baidu says it has now shut down the service. Apple is seeking a meeting with the union in order to explain the terms of the service, which is offered as an iPad application. The union, which has not received government support, was established by well-known writers including Han Han, Li Chengpeng and Shen Haobo.
IFJ Project Manager