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IFJ report lists China's secret bans on media reporting

(IFJ/IFEX) - January 31, 2010 - A new report by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) on press freedom in China highlights the battle by local censors to control media commentary on a wide range of topics throughout 2009.

Banned topics range from events associated with social unrest and public protests against authorities, to reports of photos of an actress topless on a Caribbean beach.

The report, "China Clings to Control: Press Freedom in 2009", will be officially released by the IFJ at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Hong Kong at 11am on January 31.

It presents data gathered by IFJ media rights monitoring in China, detailing the intensifying efforts of authorities since early 2009 to control online content and commentary, and assessing the official restrictions and range of impediments faced by local and foreign media working in Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

Amid the controversy over Google's recently stated refusal to censor the contents of its Chinese-language search engine, following allegations that China's authorities had authorised a cyber attack on Google's US-based systems, and gmail accounts held by activists in China had been breached, "China Clings to Control: Press Freedom in 2009" presents the wider context of restrictions confronting journalists and media in China.

In calling on China to investigate Google's allegations, United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says US companies need to take a "principled stand" against censorship.

"The IFJ fully endorses Mrs Clinton's comments," IFJ General Secretary Aidan White said.

"We further call on the international community to take a principled stand to oppose all forms of restrictions on the rights of journalists to do their work in China, including the steady stream of official bans as well as new rules in 2009 which make it virtually impossible for local journalists who work in traditional or online media to receive the accreditation they need in order to conduct their profession."

The IFJ report details 62 bans issued from January to November 2009, among hundreds of regulations issued by central and provincial authorities in the past year.

Compiled with the assistance of Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD), the list below is not complete because of difficulties in obtaining information in China about instructions to the media.

"The IFJ list indicates that much as China's censors are maintaining a vigilant eye, they are also struggling to maintain a grip on information dissemination," White said.

Read the report, "China Clings to Control: Press Freedom in 2009":
china_clings_to_control.pdf (1346 KB)

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