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    Reporters Without Borders said in it’s 2005 special report titled “Xinhua: the world’s biggest propaganda agency”, that “Xinhua remains the voice of the sole party”, “particularly during the SARS epidemic, Xinhua has for last few months been putting out news reports embarrassing to the government, but they are designed to fool the international community, since they are not published in Chinese.”
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Media crackdowns: two years before Beijing Olympics(5)

Posted by Author on August 18, 2006

Reporters Without Borders, 7 August– (cont’d)

Higher and higher

At President Hu Jintao’s behest, the ruling Communist Party’s Publicity Department (the former Propaganda Department) has reined in several Chinese media that were considered too liberal. The Beijing News daily was targeted first. Then the famous weekly Bing Dian’s editor, Li Datong, was fired.

The Chinese authorities had been expected to try to become more transparent before the Games. Instead, they are now planning to step up news censorship in times of crisis. A recent draft law provides for heavy fines for publishing unauthorised news reports about industrial accidents, natural disasters, public health catastrophes or social unrest. A senior Council of State official hinted that this censorship could also apply to the Hong Kong and foreign media. The bill would have a dramatic impact on public health and coverage of social issues, and has been criticised in many quarters.

If the bill is adopted, an epidemic or industrial accident taking place before or during the 2008 Games could go completely uncovered.

Other repressive measures have been adopted in recent months. In May, for example, lawyers were threatened with reprisals by the bar association if they gave information to foreign journalists about sensitive matters such as political prisoners.

Despite China’s undertakings to the World Trade Organisation, the General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP) decided in April to step up controls over illegal foreign publications and to freeze the granting of publication licences to joint-ventures. The media are accused of disrupting the market and of having a “negative impact on the public.” So it is hard to imagine how the foreign media would be able to have a presence in the Chinese market in 2008. (to be cont’d…)

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