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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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Archive for the ‘Ching Cheong’ Category

Freedom of Expression in Hong Kong Has Shrunk, Says Journalist

Posted by Author on May 9, 2008


Radio Free Asia, 2008-05-06-

Hong Kong people turned out in force to protest the deadly Chinese crackdown of 1989, says a Hong Kong-based journalist jailed by China for almost three years on spying charges. But Ching Cheong also says the territory’s space for dissent has shrunk dramatically.

HONG KONG—A Hong Kong-based journalist jailed by China for almost three years on spying charges says the former British colony’s freedoms have been eroded since the 1997 handover to Beijing.

“Hong Kong has made a continual contribution to progress in China for more than a century, even promoting some positive change in China,” Ching Cheong, formerly chief China correspondent for Singapore’s Straits Times newspaper, said.

“This can be ascribed to the freedom of expression in Hong Kong. However, since the handover, the space for different opinions has shrunk, or even disappeared,” he said in an interview.

“This is a potential threat to the traditional values of Hong Kong,” he added.

Ching was handed a five-year jail term by a Guangdong court in August 2006 for allegedly spying for Taiwan, which he denies. He had been held previously for some 16 months.

Tibet protest in Hong Kong

He spoke after a confrontation between Free Tibet protesters and supporters of the Chinese government during the Olympic torch relay in Hong Kong, where some spectators held large Chinese flags and others carried protest signs.

Ching said the temporary detention of Tibet protester Christina Chan, ostensibly a form of protective custody to protect her from an angry pro-China mob, was “unfortunate.”

Chan had wrapped the Tibetan snow lion flag around her body and later began waving it, drawing obscenities and angry comments from a group of Mandarin-speaking bystanders.

Several onlookers heckled Chan, shouting “What kind of Chinese are you?” and “What a shame!’ The 21-year-old Chan said, “Why can’t we just respect each other and express our views?”

Hong Kong people are outspoken

Ching said that while Hong Kong people were genuinely patriotic during the passage of the Olympic torch through China’s Special Administrative Region, which has been granted a “high degree of autonomy” and constitutional protection of its basic freedoms, he said they wouldn’t hesitate to show dissatisfaction as well.

“The same Hong Kongers will be unhesitant in voicing their discontent on the streets whenever this is a problem in China,” Ching said, citing a demonstration of more than 1 million people in the territory after the 1989 military crackdown pro-democracy protesters.

“In 2003, half a million Hong Kong people went out on the streets, rallying against the legislation in the Hong Kong Basic Law Clause 23 and expressing their anger over the limitation of various freedoms in Hong Kong after the 1997 handover,” said Ching, who has taken up his work as a journalist again but has no plans for any reporting trips to China……. (more details from Radio Free Asia: Journalist Fears for Hong Kong)

Posted in Asia, China, Ching Cheong, Freedom of Speech, Hong kong, Human Rights, Journalist, Media, News, People, Politics, Social, Speech, World | Comments Off on Freedom of Expression in Hong Kong Has Shrunk, Says Journalist

China: Journalist Ching Cheong’s release must not to divert attention from arrest of Hu Jia and and Lu Gengsong

Posted by Author on February 7, 2008


Reporters Without Borders, 5 February 2008-

Reporters Without Borders is relieved that Hong-Kong based journalist Ching Cheong, a correspondent of Singapore’s Straits Times newspaper, was freed on parole this morning from a prison in the southern city of Guangzhou where he was serving a five-year sentence on a spying charge. He arrived back in Hong Kong at midday. Arrested on 22 April 2005, he had just over two years of his sentence still to serve.

“Ching should never have been arrested and imprisoned,” Reporters Without Borders said. “His release is very welcome, especially as it will allow him to celebrate the Chinese New Year with his family, but he is still not completely free. The Chinese government should continue down this road by releasing, before the start of the Olympic Games, all of the 32 journalists and 51 cyber-dissidents who are currently held.”

The press freedom organisation added: “We pay tribute to the extraordinary efforts made by Ching’s family, his friends of the Ching Cheong Concern Group and the journalistic community in Hong Kong, who always defended his innocence in the face of the Chinese government’s unjust accusations.”

Ching’s release must not be allowed to divert attention from the plight of human rights activist Hu Jia, who has been held since 27 December on a charge of “inciting subversion of state authority,” or from the four-year prison sentence passed on 4 February on writer Lu Gengsong in the eastern city of Hangzhou on the same charge.

Li Changqing, the former editor of Fuzhou Daily, was freed on 2 February on completing a three-year sentence for “spreading alarmist reports.”

Mak Chai-ming of the Ching Cheong Concern Group told Reporters Without Borders he was “very happy” about Ching’s release and hoped Ching would now be able to explain the circumstances and reasons for his arrest. The Hong Kong Journalists Association said it hoped this kind of arrest would not recur. The management of The Straits Times said it was “delighted by this long-awaited release.”

When a Reporters Without Borders representative met with Ching’s wife, Mary Lau, in Hong Kong in December, she described his prison conditions: “He is in a cell with 12 other inmates, most of them criminals serving long sentences. There are two factories in the prison. He has to work eight hours a day, with additional hours twice a week, until 9 pm. He makes police uniforms. The prisoners are not paid.”

Lau added: “Ching had a problem with high blood pressure before his arrest, but it flared up only two or three times a year. Now he has it all the time. He is suffering as result of the military discipline in the prison. He has lost 15 kilos since his arrest. You already know that the first month, when he was held in Beijing, was extremely tough. The way he was treated could be regarded as mental torture.”

Ching has had heart and stomach problems, and doctors reportedly discovered a duodenal ulcer. He was hospitalised on more than one occasion, but the family was not told until several weeks later.

The holder of a “British National Overseas” passport, Ching was arrested on 22 April 2005 while visiting Guangzhou and was sentenced on 31 August 2006 to five years in prison and a fine of 60,000 euros for allegedly spying for Taiwan. The official news agency Xinhua published a report claiming the Ching sold business, political and military information to Taiwanese agents for millions of dollars between 2000 and 2005.

Ching worked from 1974 to June 1989 for the Hong Kong-based daily Wen Wei Po, which supports the Beijing government. He resigned after the Tiananmen Square massacre and set up an independent political magazine called Contemporary. He joined the Singapore-based Straits Times in 1996. He has written many articles and books about the Communist Party of China, Taiwan and Hong Kong.

Reporters Without Borders and the Hong Kong Journalists Association launched an appeal for Ching’s release on 2 June 2005. The petition, which can be accessed at http://www.petition-chingcheong.org, had been signed by more than 30,000 people.

– Original report from Reporters Without Borders: Ching Cheong’s release hailed, although it is eclipsed by Hu Jia’s arrest and Lu Gengsong’s sentencing

Posted in Activist, China, Ching Cheong, Freedom of Speech, Hong kong, Hu Jia, Human Rights, Journalist, Law, News, People, Politics, Social, World | Comments Off on China: Journalist Ching Cheong’s release must not to divert attention from arrest of Hu Jia and and Lu Gengsong

China Urged to Free Jailed Hong Kong Reporter

Posted by Author on July 3, 2007


Reporters Without Borders, 3.07.2007-

Reporters Without Borders today urged the Chinese authorities to release imprisoned journalist Ching Cheong as a “significant gesture” towards the journalistic community in Hong Kong on the 10th anniversary of the return of the former British colony to China.

“The release of the ailing Ching would go some way towards reassuring Hong Kong’s journalists about their freedom of expression and movement,” the press freedom organisation said. “Freeing this journalist is a precondition for any improvement in relations between the central government and Hong Kong’s independent press.”

The Hong Kong-based correspondent of Singapore’s Straits Times newspaper, Ching was sentenced on 31 August 2006 to five years in prison and a fine of 60,000 euros. The holder of a “British National Overseas” passport and a permanent resident of Singapore, Ching had been arrested by the Chinese police on 22 April 2005 while visiting Guangzhou.

Following his arrest, Ching was put under house arrest in Beijing in August 2005 while the Chinese authorities launched a smear campaign against him to justify the postponement of his trial and his extended detention. He was accused of spying for Taiwan.

The official news agency Xinhua published a report claiming the Ching sold business, political and military information to Taiwanese agents for millions of dollars between 2000 and 2005. In fact, Ching had gone to Guangzhou to get information about the late Communist Party leader Zhao Ziyang, who had still been under house arrest at the time of his death in January 2005. Zhao’s “crime” was to have negotiated with pro-democracy demonstrators during the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989.

Ching’s wife, Mary Lau Man-yee, herself a journalist, has always denied the spying allegations. The authorities in Beijing invited her to visit her husband, but she declined for fear of being arrested herself. Ching appealed against his sentence on 8 September 2006.

Reporters Without Borders participated with 20 other human rights organisations in a day of action in support of Ching on 20 July 2006. More than 20,000 people have signed a petition for Ching’s release which Reporters Without Borders and the Hong Kong Journalists Association launched in May 2005. It is available at wwww.petition-chingcheong.org

original report from  Reporters Without Borders

Posted in Asia, China, Ching Cheong, Hong kong, Human Rights, Journalist, Law, News, People, Politics, Speech, World | Comments Off on China Urged to Free Jailed Hong Kong Reporter

China Sociologist Gets 20 Years Sentence For Helping Journalist

Posted by Author on December 19, 2006


Reporters Without Borders, Dec.19, 2006-

Reporters Without Borders today condemned the 20-year prison sentence handed down by the Beijing No. 2 intermediate people’s court yesterday on researcher and media commentator Lu Jianhua for leaking state secrets in a case linked to that of Hong-Kong based reporter Ching Cheong, who was sentenced in August to five years for “spying.”

“We call on researchers to rally to Lu’s defence. Applying the state secrets law with the utmost severity in Lu’s case constitutes a very grave violation of press and scientific freedom,” Reporters Without Borders said. “It dramatically highlights the violence with which the Communist Party cracks down on researchers and journalists who try to work and publish independently.”

A prominent sociologist with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Lu was well known for the essays he wrote and his appearances on TV talk shows. Aged 46, he was one of the editors of a book on the social situation in China that is published every year.

The Hong Kong-based Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy said Lu was tried in a 90-minute hearing behind closed doors on 16 August, although the verdict and sentence were not handed down until yesterday. His family was not able to choose his defence lawyer and his wife was prevented from attending the trial.

Lu was arrested in April 2005, the same month that Ching, the China correspondent of the Singapore-based Straits Times daily, was arrested during a visit to the Chinese mainland. Lu and Ching regularly exchanged information on the political and social situation in China for their scientific and journalistic work. Ching also helped Lu get around 60 articles published in the Straits Times.

Some Chinese officials claimed that three of these articles, published in 2004, contained state secrets.

In an open letter to President Hu Jintao in June, Ching’s wife, Mary Lau, wrote: “Lu Jianhua and Ching Cheong regularly shared classified information about statements by leaders. They did it to prepare their scientific research or their journalistic interviews. I hope you will understand that whatever they did, they were standing firmly on the side of Chinese people.”

Posted in Beijing, China, Ching Cheong, Human Rights, intellectual, Journalist, Law, News, People, Politics, Social, Speech, World | Comments Off on China Sociologist Gets 20 Years Sentence For Helping Journalist

China Court Rejects Jailed Hong Kong Journalist’s Appeal

Posted by Author on November 24, 2006


24 November 2006-

A Beijing court has rejected the appeal of a Hong Kong journalist found guilty of espionage. Ching Cheong was sentenced to five years in jail, a ruling that sends a chilling message to journalists working in China.

A Beijing high court rejected Hong Kong-based journalist Ching Cheong’s appeal. He was sentenced in August to five years in jail on charges of spying for Taiwan – charges his supporters say were fabricated.

State media quoted the judge as saying that the original verdict was “accurate in application of the law and appropriate in meting out punishment.”

Speaking outside the courthouse, Ching’s older brother, Ching Hai, said he felt “sad and shocked” by the verdict. He questioned the fairness of the legal process, and said the verdict would not have stood in a mature legal system like Hong Kong’s.

The head of the Hong Kong Journalists’ Association, Serenade Woo, says there is a lack of evidence to convict Ching and he should be released.

“The appeal court should have to seriously re-think the judgment of the lower (court). If there is any doubt they should let Mr. Ching be released as soon as possible,” she said.

Ching, who reported for the Singapore Straits Times newspaper, was detained in April 2005 in southern China. The Chinese authorities accused him of handing over state secrets to a Taiwanese foundation. Ching denied the claim.

His wife and supporters say he was in China in his capacity as a journalist, collecting documents related to the purged Chinese Communist Party leader Zhao Ziyang.

In 1989, Zhao famously expressed sympathy for the protesters during pro-democracy demonstrations on Tiananmen Square. He was later stripped of his posts and died earlier this year. Any documents relating to Zhao could be sensitive for China’s leadership.

Serenade Woo says the trial is also a warning for Hong Kong and foreign journalists working in China, to watch what they write.

“They just want to send out a message to all the journalists, be cautious, otherwise you will be charged,” she said.

Ching’s wife says the journalist, who is 56, suffers from insomnia and stomach pains. His supporters hope authorities may release him on medical grounds.

Posted in Asia, Beijing, China, Ching Cheong, Hong kong, Human Rights, Journalist, Law, News, Overseas Chinese, People, Politics, Social, Speech | Comments Off on China Court Rejects Jailed Hong Kong Journalist’s Appeal

Nearly 100 Rights Defenders Attacked in Beijing Area in half month

Posted by Author on September 17, 2006


Chinese Human Rights Defenders, Sept. 11, 2009– (abstract)

Since mid-August, police all over China have carried out a centrally coordinated clampdown on rights activities. Without due process or legal procedure, large numbers of writers, intellectuals, lawyers and rights activists have been subjected to house arrest and other forms of tightened control.

In Beijing alone, nearly 100 people have been affected. They include Liu Xiaobo, Jiang Qisheng, Wang Lixiong, Wei Se, Zhang Zuhua, Jiao Guobiao, Teng Biao, Li Heping, Jiang Tianyong, Li Baiguang, Fan Yafeng, Zhang Lihui, Li Fengping, Li Jingsong, Li Subin, Hou Wenzhuo, Li Hai, Hu Jia (twice detained for questioning in recent days), Liu Huo, Qi Zhiyong, Liu Jingsheng, Ma Wendu, Li Jinping and the family and contacts of lawyer Gao Zhisheng. Another, Zhao Xin, was forcefully returned to Yunnan Province.

Highlights of the crackdown in Augest

On August 9, 2006, human rights activist Guo Feixiong was beaten up by a gang of police officers on the train to Beijing. On the same day, Yao Baohua and Zhou Yaqin, representing landless peasants in Changzhou in Jiangsu Province were put under criminal detention by the local police and charged with “gathering a crowd to disturb social order.” They had been seeking to petition the local government and were expressing their views peacefully.

On August 11, Tan Kai, an environmentalist from Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province and founder of the NGO called “Green Watch,” was convicted of “illegally acquiring state secrets” and sentenced by the local court to 18 months of imprisonment. He had been protesting illegal pollution. The same day Zan Aizong, a Zhejiang correspondent for “China Ocean News,” received seven days of administrative detention for reporting the demolition of a church in Xiaoshan city. The Hangzhou Public Security Bureau accused Zan Aizong of “spreading rumors and disturbing public order”.

On August 15, human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng was secretly arrested by police in Dongying city in Shandong. Gao had spoken out about his concerns about violations of human rights. The authorities have yet to announce the specific reasons for his arrest. Since his arrest, the police have placed his wife and children under close and invasive surveillance.

On August 17, in Yinan County in Shandong Province, Dr. Xu Zhiyong, who had been providing legal assistance to the activist Chen Guangcheng, was accused of theft. Yinan police detained Xu, as well as two lawyers, Zhang Lihui and Li Fangping, who were accompanying him. They were taken to Jiehu police station for questioning.

On August 18, other activists, including Deng Yongliang and lawyer Zhang Jiankang, were also detained by police in Yinan, Shandong, and their whereabouts remain unknown.

On August 19, the Yinan County People’s Court sentenced blind rights activist Chen Guangcheng to four years and three months in prison for “gathering a crowd to disrupt traffic order” and “willful damage to property”. The authorities refused to let Chen’s lawyers represent him in court.

On August 20, Li Jianhong and Ouyang Xiaorong, both members of the Independent Chinese PEN Center, were beaten by police in Qingdao, Shandong and forcibly returned to Shanghai and Yunnan.

On August 22, rights representative Liu Zhengyou in Zigong City, Sichuan Province was badly beaten by unidentified thugs right before the eyes of police. Liu has been urging the government to negotiate with peasants to settle a land dispute fairly and had been participating with the farmers in peaceful demonstrations.

On August 25, the Beijing No. 2 Intermediate People’s Court sentenced Zhao Yan, a researcher at the Beijing office of New York Times, to three years of imprisonment on charges of “fraud.” In a trial that drew much international scrutiny, Zhao was found not guilty of “divulging state secrets.” Zhao Yan had been paying close attention to issues such as peasant land rights and fair compensation. He had also been providing legal aid to help people begin litigation against corrupt officials.

On August 31, the Beijing No. 2 Intermediate People’s Court delivered a judgment in an initial hearing for Cheng Xiang (Ching Cheung), the chief China correspondent for the Singapore newspaper The Straits Times. Cheng was found guilty of “espionage” and sentenced to five years’ imprisonment plus one year of deprivation of political rights. The court also confiscated 300,000 yuan of Cheng’s personal property.

– from China: Intensified Attack on Human Rights Defenders, Sept. 11, 2009

Posted in Activist, Beijing, Chen Guangcheng, China, Ching Cheong, City resident, Dissident, Gao Zhisheng, Guo Feixiong, Human Rights, intellectual, Journalist, Law, Lawyer, News, People, Police, Politics, Social, Zhao Yan | Comments Off on Nearly 100 Rights Defenders Attacked in Beijing Area in half month

CPJ: CHINA restricts foreign news distribution

Posted by Author on September 12, 2006


The Committee to Protect Journalists, September 11, 2006, New York-

The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by China’s announcement Sunday that the state-controlled Xinhua News Agency would oversee the distribution of foreign news and information within China, and would censor all news stories, photographs and other information deemed offensive under several broad categories.

“It is greatly distressing that less than two years before the start of the Olympic Games in Beijing, the government is attempting to tighten its financial and political control over the flow of information in China,” said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. “These new regulations on the distribution of foreign news are a step backward.”

The sweeping regulations are likely to affect financial news reporting and economic information providers that sell services directly to clients inside China, according to international news reports. The new rules come amid China’s heightened effort to control foreign and local press coverage through administrative measures and the civil and criminal prosecution of journalists.

Xinhua announced that the new regulations, called Measures for Administering the Release of News and Information in China by Foreign News Agencies, would take effect immediately. Under these measures, Xinhua News Agency says it would retain the right to select the news distributed within China, and would delete any materials found to:

  • Violate the basic principles enshrined in the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China;
  • Undermine China’s national unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity;
  • Endanger China’s national security, reputation and interests;
  • Violate China’s religious policies or preach evil cults or superstition;
  • Incite hatred and discrimination among ethnic groups, undermine their unity, infringe upon their customs and habits, or hurt their feelings;
  • Spread false information, disrupt China’s economic and social order, or undermine China’s social stability;
  • Propagate obscenity and violence, or to abet crimes;
  • Humiliate or slander another person, or infringe upon the legitimate rights and interests of another person;
  • Undermine social ethics of the fine cultural traditions of the Chinese nation;
  • Include other content banned by Chinese laws and administrative regulations.

Any foreign news agency found to be violating these rules could be suspended or its rights to provide news within China cancelled, Xinhua said on its English-language Web site. The measures will also affect the distribution on the mainland of information released by news agencies in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.

The re-publication of foreign news is already restricted through censorship agencies that control domestic media. But the new rules rescind a 1996 agreement allowing limited direct distribution of financial news and information to customers in China.

“Xinhua’s new rules will have no effect on the way we cover and provide the news globally,” said Clayton Haswell, director for Asia and the Pacific for The Associated Press, a news agency likely to be affected by the new rules, in a statement released to CPJ. “But this raises serious concerns for AP regarding fair trade and the free flow of information within China.”

A Reuters spokeswoman said that the agency was examining the new regulations.

“We are studying these rules closely to see how they differ from the current guidelines and will be discussing the details of the new regulations with Xinhua,” said Samantha Topping.

Bloomberg News declined comment.

Journalists in China have told CPJ that the government is pursuing the most intense attack on the press since the aftermath of the crackdown on protesters at Tiananmen Square in 1989. More than 30 journalists are currently jailed in China, including foreign news agency employees Zhao Yan of The New York Times, and Ching Cheong of The Straits Times of Singapore.

Posted in Beijing Olympics, China, Ching Cheong, Hong kong, Journalist, Law, Media, News, Politics, Social, Speech, Taiwan, World, Xinhua, Zhao Yan | Comments Off on CPJ: CHINA restricts foreign news distribution

Ching Cheong to appeal against rigged verdict

Posted by Author on September 8, 2006


Reporters Without Borders said today it backs the decision of Ching Cheong, of the Singapore daily Straits Times in Hong Kong, to appeal against his five-year prison sentence for “spying”.

The press freedom organisation also joined the Hong Kong Journalists’ Association in repeating its call for his immediate release. “We are firmly convinced that this heavy sentence is designed to punish an investigative journalist and to sow fear among the Hong Kong press,” it said.

Ching’s lawyer He Peihua, confirmed to Agence France-Presse that an appeal had been lodged with a court in Beijing on 8 September. “He and his family consider the sentence too harsh and unjust,” he said.

The journalist who has always protested his innocence has had a message passed to his family calling the verdict unfair.

The press freedom organisation said it was shocked at the rigged content, presented as the verdict in Ching’s trial, published by a newspaper in Hong Kong.

The spying charge was based solely on his professional contacts with researchers with a Taiwanese foundation. If Ching Cheong was indeed paid by the Taiwanese foundation to write articles on geo-strategic subjects that does not in any way amount to espionage, the organisation said.

The entire procedure was riddled with irregularities and secrecy and the justice system is hiding behind alleged confessions by Ching Cheong and Chinese academics obtained in circumstances contrary to international norms of justice.

Moreover the type of news put out by the journalist which the justice system termed “state secrets” reveals the paranoia of those in power in Beijing. Scores of journalists, dissidents and university professors are imprisoned in China for having divulged supposed “state secrets”.

The Taiwanese government on 1 September denied that Ching spied for Taipei. The authorities did however confirm that the Hong Kong reporter did have professional contacts with a Taiwanese research foundation.

On top of the prison sentence, the court sentenced Ching to fines of 300,000 yuan (30,000 euros) and 310,000 Hong Kong dollars (more than 30,000 euros). Some of his family’s property in China has been seized. His wife, Mary Lau, expressed astonishment at the swingeing fines. “They appear to think that we have a lot of money,” she said.

Related:
Chinese Reporter Jailed for 5 Years as Spy, 31st August 2006

AI report 2006- China overview(4)

Posted in Asia, Beijing, China, Ching Cheong, Hong kong, Journalist, Law, News, People, Politics, Social, Speech, Taiwan | Comments Off on Ching Cheong to appeal against rigged verdict

Jailed China journalist Ching Cheong to appeal

Posted by Author on September 2, 2006


BBC News, 1 September 2006– The wife of a Hong Kong journalist jailed in mainland China for spying says her husband is to appeal. Ching Cheong, the chief China correspondent for Singapore’s Straits Times, was sentenced on Thursday to five years in prison.

Mary Lau said her husband had sent her a message calling his conviction unfair and vowing to appeal against it.

Her comments come amid criticism in Hong Kong over the sentence, and calls for Ching’s release.

Chinese media reported that Ching was found guilty of buying information and passing it to Taiwan’s intelligence services over a period of five years from mid-2000 to March 2005.

State news agency Xinhua said Ching had confessed to the charges, a statement both his family and employers reject.

They say he was in Guangzhou to collect secret papers linked to the former Chinese leader, Zhao Ziyang, who was ousted for opposing the suppression of pro-democracy demonstrators in Tiananmen Square in 1989.

‘Very unfair’

Mary Lau said her husband told her in a message sent via his lawyers that the judge only heard prosecution evidence at the one-day trial.

“He believes himself innocent, and that the verdict was very unfair to him,” she said.

Ms Lau said an appeal would be filed within the 10-day time limit.

The case has sparked criticism in Hong Kong, with a number of newspapers questioning the legitimacy of the legal proceedings.

The Straits Times has appealed to China for leniency for Ching, asking for a sentence reduction.

“We urge that you take into consideration his professional record as a journalist for the Straits Times, and the fact that he is in poor health,” Reuters news agency quoted a letter from editor Han Fook Kwang as saying.

Media freedom watchdog Reporters Without Borders, meanwhile, called the sentence “appalling”.

“Ching was tried in an unacceptable way on baseless charges,” the organisation said in a statement.

More than 80 journalists and “cyber-dissidents” are currently imprisoned in China, the organisation said.

original report 

Posted in Asia, China, Ching Cheong, Family, Hong kong, Journalist, Law, Media, News, People, Politics, Social, Speech, Taiwan | Comments Off on Jailed China journalist Ching Cheong to appeal

Chinese Reporter Jailed for 5 Years as Spy

Posted by Author on August 31, 2006


Ching CheongReporters Without Borders voiced dismay on learning that a Beijing court today sentenced Ching Cheong, the Hong Kong-based correspondent of Singapore’s Straits Times newspaper, to five years in prison for spying. He is the second journalist employed by a foreign news organisation to receive a prison sentence in the past week.

“This sentence is appalling,” the press freedom organisation said. “Ching was tried in an unacceptable way on baseless charges. This crackdown on journalists employed by foreign media bodes ill for the Beijing Olympic Games that are now less than two years away and deserves strong condemnation by the International Olympic Committee and the countries taking part.”

A British passport holder, Ching was sentenced by the Beijing Intermediate People’s Court No. 2, which also ordered the seizure of 300,000 yuan (29 000 euros) of his assets. Arrested on 22 April 2005, he had been tried behind closed doors on 15 August, in a hearing that last just a few hours.

He is alleged to have sold “top secret” documents to Taiwanese intelligence agencies. His wife, Mary Lau, denied that he ever sold confidential information and said he had always lived modestly. It seems his real crime in the eyes of the Chinese authorities was to have tried to obtain a manuscript of the former reformist leader Zhao Ziyang, the victim of a purge within the Communist Party. The shadow of the Beijing Spring still hangs over journalists who, like Ching, criticised the brutal crackdown on the pro-democracy movement.

Ching’s family will appeal against his conviction.

Ching’s prison sentence was issued just a week after New York Times researcher Zhao Yan received a three-year prison sentence. More than 80 journalists and cyber-dissidents are currently imprisoned in China.

Related:

China: Ching Cheong’s trial is “travesty of justice”, 16th August 2006

Posted in Asia, Beijing, Beijing Olympics, China, Ching Cheong, Hong kong, Journalist, Law, News, People, Politics, Social, Speech, Taiwan, World | Comments Off on Chinese Reporter Jailed for 5 Years as Spy

Critics silenced before Olympics

Posted by Author on August 27, 2006


August 26, 2006–

CHINA’S crackdown on critics is reaching a climax, with blind human rights lawyer Chen Guangcheng being jailed for four years and three months for organising fellow villagers to disrupt traffic, and researcher for The New York Times Zhao Yan sentenced to three years on a bizarre fraud charge.

The jailings are part of a nationwide pre-emptive strike against critics of China’s authoritarian system. In its determination to intimidate opposition before China comes into the full glare of global attention during the Beijing Olympics in two years, the Government appears to have decided to abandon, for now, moves to bring the country within the rule of law.

An increasing feature of the relentless intimidation of lawyers and journalists has been the use of closed trials, manoeuvres to block legal representation, trumped-up charges, and coincidental attacks by thugs who are never caught or prosecuted.

Mr Chen, 34, a self-taught “barefoot lawyer”, became famous for launching a legal action for victims of forced abortions and sterilisations in his home town of Linyi, in the northeastern Shandong province.

Yesterday, Mr Chen was joined in jail by Mr Zhao, who was acquitted – to widespread surprise – on a charge of “revealing state secrets” that followed the Times’s correct report in 2004 that former president Jiang Zemin would soon step down as military chief.

Mr Zhao, 44, has been held in prison since then, and his trial was in secret. But despite the failure of the widely derided state secrets charge, he was not permitted to go free.

One of Mr Zhao’s lawyers, Mo Shaoping, told The Australian that as soon as the state secrets charge appeared to founder, the fresh charge was laid that in 2001 Mr Zhao received 20,000 yuan (just over $3000) from Feng Shaochen, who had been sentenced to a term at a labour camp. Mr Feng, whose written accusation was not supported by documentary evidence or witnesses, said Mr Zhao falsely claimed he could secure a lighter sentence for him. Mr Zhao’s lawyer, Mr Mo, said that he denied the entire story. He said that when Mr Zhao was recently visited in jail, “he was not in a very good condition at all”.

The verdict is being awaited on veteran Hong Kong journalist Ching Cheong, a correspondent for the Singapore Straits Times, whose own closed-door trial last week took less than a day. Mr Ching, who was detained 16 months ago while seeking access to the final reflections of Zhao Ziyang – the former Communist Party secretary-general, held under house arrest after opposing the Tiananmen massacre in 1989 until his death last year – is accused of spying for Taiwan, which he vehemently denies.

Last week, lawyer Gao Zhisheng – widely known for defending democracy advocates, Christians, other lawyers and, even more annoyingly for the authorities, Falun Gong members – was seized by security officials from his sister’s home in Shandong province.

Mr Gao had earlier travelled to offer help at the trial of Mr Chen, in the same province, but was beaten when he arrived. No one was charged.

Lawyer Xu Zhiyong, who flew from Beijing to defend Mr Chen last week, was accused on the evening before the trial of picking the pocket of a security officer. He told The Australian he was then beaten by a plain-clothes policeman who emerged from a car without licence plates. He was held at the local police station on the theft charge, until Mr Chen’s trial was over.

Instead, Mr Chen was assigned by the local government two lawyers who conceded every prosecution claim, despite Mr Chen’s rejection of both them and the claims.

Related:
Activists urge renewed U.S. rights pressure on China, Reuters, August 25, 2006

Posted in Activist, Beijing, Beijing Olympics, Chen Guangcheng, China, Ching Cheong, East China, Gao Zhisheng, Journalist, Law, Lawyer, People, Politics, Social, Speech, Sports | Comments Off on Critics silenced before Olympics

China: Ching Cheong’s trial is “travesty of justice”

Posted by Author on August 16, 2006


Ching CheongReporters Without Borders voiced outrage at yesterday’s trial in Beijing of Ching Cheong, the Hong Kong-based correspondent of the Singaporean Straits Times daily, calling it a “travesty of justice” that showed the authorities had no evidence for the spying charge against him.

“We will continue to campaign on behalf of Ching and we will not accept a guilty verdict,” the press freedom organisation said. “The only possible outcome is Ching’s release. What credible judicial system would dare to try someone for ’spying,’ a crime punishable by death, in just a few hours and with defence rights flouted from start to end? This is an insult to the very idea of justice.”

Ching’s trial was held behind closed doors yesterday at Beijing Second Intermediate People’s Court. The hearing lasted just a few hours. So far, no information has emerged about what transpired.

Singapore Press Holdings, which publishes the Straits Times, said in a statement: “We are happy that Ching Cheong’s trial is finally over after a year of detention. We hope for the best possible outcome.”

Ching was accused of spying after being arrested in April 2005 in Guangzhou. The Chinese foreign ministry claimed on 31 May 2005 that he was a spy in the pay of foreign agencies. His newspaper said it was shocked by the allegation. His wife, Mary Lau, said a go-between set a trap for him when he tried to obtain recordings of secret interviews with former reformist Prime Minister Zhao Ziyang.

Related:

Call for release of Ching Cheong
AI report 2006- China overview(4)

Posted in Asia, China, Ching Cheong, Hong kong, Journalist, Law, People, Social, Speech | Comments Off on China: Ching Cheong’s trial is “travesty of justice”

Media crackdowns: two years before Beijing Olympics(2)

Posted by Author on August 12, 2006


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

Further and further

The prolonged detention of New York Times researcher Zhao Yan and Straits Times correspondent Ching Cheong have shown that journalists working for the Chinese press are not the only targets of the crackdowns. The government also turns its sights on the foreign media whenever they do anything to upset it.

The foreign journalists who are based in China or come on visits continue to be subject to police control. Everyone is aware of the surveillance, including the phone tapping. One might have expected China to keep its promise to the IOC to guarantee the media’s freedom of movement. But this has not happened.

“In no other major country is there so much control over foreign journalists,” says Jonathan Watts of the Foreign Correspondents Club of China. Dozens of foreign journalists – both visitors and those based there – are detained, threatened or attacked each year. “We are unable to give an exact figure at the moment, somewhere between 50 and 100 a year, but the number of journalists prevented from working by force is a problem that should be raised at the highest level,” says Watts. The Foreign Correspondents Club still lacks official recognition and therefore has no premises of its own in Beijing. (to be cont’d…)

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Related:

China: seven websites shut down in the past few weeks
Internet essayist put in prison as verdict is delayed
China’s new wave of Internet censorship, RSF
AI report 2006- China overview(2)

Posted in Beijing Olympics, China, Ching Cheong, Journalist, Media, Social, Special report, Speech, Sports, Zhao Yan | Comments Off on Media crackdowns: two years before Beijing Olympics(2)

HONG KONG: PUBLIC BROADCASTER’S FUTURE AT STAKE

Posted by Author on August 2, 2006


ifex.org– At a time when the space for media freedom in Hong Kong is contracting and many previously independent newspapers have toned down their coverage of sensitive matters, the need for a truly independent public broadcaster is more vital than ever, says the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HJKA). Yet press freedom advocates fear possible moves to turn government-owned Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) into an organ of state propaganda.In January 2006, the government set up a committee to review public broadcasting in Hong Kong, notes HKJA in its 2006 annual report, entitled “RTHK Under Siege.” Given the intense criticism of RTHK by pro-Beijing politicians, who argue it should better reflect the government’s views, there has been considerable suspicion about the motives for the review.

Early news from the review committee has been reassuring for those, including HKJA, who call for RTHK, currently a government department, to become an independent public broadcaster, free from government financial interference or pressure. In March, the committee released a report on its consultations with broadcasters and academics, which found consensus on the need for a public broadcaster with editorial independence.
However, uncertainties remain about the committee’s final recommendations and how Hong Kong’s government and chief executive will respond to the review. Options range from maintaining the status quo, setting up an independent corporation (modelled after the BBC), turning RTHK into a government mouthpiece, or selling it off to the private sector.
Other issues of concern to Hong Kong journalists in the last year include a government bill on the interception of communications and covert surveillance that could compromise confidential journalistic material, says HKJA. The role of Yahoo Holdings (Hong Kong) in providing information to authorities in Beijing that led to a ten-year prison sentence for journalist Shi Tao has also been the subject of an investigation by Hong Kong’s Privacy Commission.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong journalist Ching Cheong, who faces spying charges in Beijing, is still detained more than a year after his initial arrest. HKJA says the detention has had a chilling effect on media coverage of mainland China as journalists fear retribution if they stray over ill-defined lines of what Beijing considers acceptable.

Read HKJA’s report here:
http://www.hkja.org.hk/press_free/a_report/AR2006.pdf

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Related: Call for release of Ching Cheong

Posted in China, Ching Cheong, Hong kong, Journalist, Media, People, Social, Speech | Comments Off on HONG KONG: PUBLIC BROADCASTER’S FUTURE AT STAKE

Call for release of Ching Cheong

Posted by Author on July 23, 2006


Reporters Without Borders is joining 19 other human rights groups in a daylong campaign for Hong Kong journalist Ching Cheong, whose trial is due to open in Beijing in the next few days.

The signatories of the appeal are calling for the international community to react in support of this principled journalist who has been wrongly accused of spying and has been held in custody by state security in Beijing for the past 15 months. You can see the appeal launched by his wife, Mary Lau, on www.visual-artists-guild.org.

Reporters Without Borders today sent a letter to President Hu Jintao with a copy to the Chinese ambassador in France.

Posted in Ching Cheong, Journalist, People, Social, Speech | Comments Off on Call for release of Ching Cheong

 
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