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What you cannot read in the Chinese press

What you cannot read in the Chinese press

Published on Tuesday 4 May 2010. Updated on Wednesday 5 May 2010.
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The Propaganda Department marked World Press Freedom Day on May 3d in its own way by restricting the Chinese media’s coverage of the Shanghai World Expo, the spate of attacks on schools, the risk of a real estate bubble, Kim Jong-il’s visit to China and the political situation in Taiwan. Reporters Without Borders obtained a transcript of the directives sent to the Chinese media.

“To avoid any feeling of fear in the population and prevent extremists from committing similar crimes, it is strictly forbidden to report cases of attacks on schools or to publish comments,” one of the Propaganda Department directives said. “Articles about the Jiangsu and Leizhou cases already posted online must be withdrawn. Finally, the Nanfang Dushi Bao and Nanfang Zhoumo reporters who went to Taizhou to cover an attack must leave at once.” Local authorities has been criticised for prevented the press covering these attacks, including the anger of the families.

A directive issued on the eve of the opening of the Shanghai World Expo said: “As regards the activities of the central authorities during the Shanghai Expo, all the media must use the reports of the Xinhua central news agency or other central media outlets. The other media must not publish their own reports and must not ask national leaders questions during their visits to Shanghai."

This directive added: “As regards the inaugural ceremony, you must respect the already established rules. It is forbidden to express reservations and if any incident suddenly takes place, it is forbidden to report it without permission or to publish any comment.”

As regards foreign media reports of a possible property bubble, the Propaganda Department said: “It is forbidden to repeat the criticism of the western media, including its comments about real estate inflation. To cover this subject, you can only use reports containing explanations by government officials.”

Although the English-language Chinese media have reported that North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il has begun a visit to China, the Chinese-language media have not mentioned his presence in the country.

The Propaganda Department has also asked the media not to cover some recent statements by Taiwanese opposition representatives about relations between China and Taiwan.

The latest directives follow a series of restrictions on coverage of the earthquake in Qinghai province: http://en.rsf.org/china-shanghai-ex...

A conservative bastion loyal to President Hu Jintao, a “Predator of Press Freedom,” the Propaganda Department has also launched a new offensive against the “hostile forces” that are allegedly using the Internet in a bid to destabilise China. Wang Chen, the department’s No. 2, has urged parliamentarians to adopt an Internet Administration Law in order to block dangerous reports and prevent “infiltration of the Internet by hostile forces.”

For the Shanghai World Expo, Reporters Without Borders has created a virtual “Garden of Freedoms” in order to offer the public information about free speech restrictions in China: http://en.rsf.org/shanghai_en.html

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