On the day after the “Jasmine Revolution” rally on 20 February 2011, he called for the strengthening of “controls on the information Web” in order to maintain social order and promote a harmonious society.
Government and party officials understood the message. During the last year of Hu’s term, information restrictions, especially online, have been strengthened, as has the propaganda department’s media censorship. Summonses to appear before officials and other pressures on journalists, netizens and dissidents have become more frequent. Working conditions for foreign journalists have steadily worsened.
The president has ordered information blackouts on regions gripped by social or political unrest. In Inner Mongolia, he responded with repressive measures to a protest movement launched in May 2011. Likewise in Tibet, where nearly 20 monks have burned themselves to death since March 2011. That region now is cut off from the world. Not only are foreign media barred from covering events, but the authorities have also organized a full-scale disinformation campaign via pro-government media (such as the Global Times), designed to minimize events and denounce the international community’s involvement as interference.
The announced successor of Hu Jintao, Xi Jinping, has promised to “smash” any attempt to “destroy stability” in Tibet. He seems well on his way to taking his place as the next press freedom predator in China.