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Blackout imposed by Chinese authorities

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders is alarmed at the blackout imposed by Chinese authorities on the provinces of Sichuan and Qinghai, as well as the autonomous region of Tibet, preventing all media coverage of protest movements there.

To this we must add disinformation activities such as the recent hacking of the French-language weekly "Courrier International" by Chinese propagandists.

"At least 15 Tibetan monks have set themselves on fire since March last year, yet little information about this, or about the recent demonstrations in Tibet, has emerged," Reporters Without Borders said.

"Not only are foreign media organizations prevented from covering these events, but the authorities have also organized a veritable disinformation campaign, using pro-government media such as the "Global Times", which play down the disturbances and accuse the international community of interfering.

"Few media outlets are able to obtain first-hand information and fewer still manage to travel to the regions concerned.

"Out of sight of the world, a major crisis is unfolding. Even Pyongyang has an international media presence, which is not the case in Lhasa."

The press freedom organization added, "As in the past, the Chinese authorities aim to control the Tibetan people behind closed doors, excluding journalists, foreign ones in particular, who might be troublesome witnesses of what is happening.

"They are also trying to restrict all communication between the region and the rest of the world. The Internet is a secondary victim of the crackdown. Connections are cut off, access is blocked and content linked to the unrest is removed - any method can be used to prevent Chinese netizens from taking over the baton from journalists and publishing news and information that might embarrass Beijing over its handling of the Tibetan unrest.

"Local community networks are particularly targeted in order to nip in the bud any attempt at mobilising support online."

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