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Chinese authorities must come clean on 'air pollution' film ban

This statement was originally published on on 6 March 2015.

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is concerned by the decision by the Cyberspace Administrative and Central Propaganda Department of China to ban the online documentary Under the Dome and the closing down of a number of websites.

In late February, journalist Chai Jing, a former anchor with state broadcaster China Central Television released Under the Dome, a documentary about China's air pollution problem. Within 24 hours of its online release, the documentary went viral with over 155 million views. On February 28, Chinese authorities ordered that the Chinese people should refrain from watching the documentary and on March 3 the Beijing Internet Management Office and Shanghai Propaganda Department issued a second order to all media to remove the documentary from their websites. Under the order, media were ordered to remove the documentary by 9 pm on March 3.

In addition, the propaganda department demanded all administrators delete any messages or commentaries that cast doubt on or attacked the government. Ironically, the order also demanded that the order be kept secret.

On March 4, the Cyberspace Administrative Office announced that 32 websites were shut down due to not following the relevant regulations, for disseminating negative information and for fabricating fake news. However, no evidence was given to prove the allegations.

The IFJ Asia Pacific Office said: "Whether the Chinese authorities acknowledge it or not, air pollution remains an issue of great public concern and an important policy of the Central Government. Yet as this series of incidents show, no-one is allowed to explore the issue or even discuss a film about it."

The IFJ urge the President of China Xi Jinping, to investigate the case as the orders deviate from his announcement that the people have a right to monitor the government.


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