Archive for ‘Censorship’


China plea paper ‘to be overhauled’ – BBC News

A Chinese newspaper that made a front-page appeal for the release of a reporter accused of defamation is to be overhauled, a press regulator says.

Journalist Chen Yongzhou, in handcuffs, is escorted by police officers at the Changsha Public Security Bureau detention centre in China

The Guangzhou-based New Express made a rare public plea for the release of journalist Chen Yongzhou.

But Mr Chen subsequently admitted on television that he had taken bribes to fabricate stories about a part state-owned company.

Now the New Express is to undergo \”full rectification\”, the regulator said.

via BBC News – China plea paper ‘to be overhauled’.


In rare move, China regulator voices concern for detained reporter | Reuters

So public protests sometimes works. See also

“China’s central publishing regulator, in a rare acknowledgement of the rights of journalists, expressed concern on Thursday about a detained reporter, a case that has stirred outrage after a newspaper pleaded with police on its front page to let him go.

Chen Yongzhou was detained after writing more than a dozen stories criticizing the finances of a major state-owned construction equipment maker, a move that coincides with new curbs on journalists, lawyers and internet users in China.

“The General Association of Press and Publishing (GAPP) resolutely supports the news media conducting normal interviewing and reporting activities and resolutely protects journalists\’ normal and legal rights to interview,” the China Press and Publishing Journal, which is overseen by the association itself, said, citing an association official.

“At the same time, it resolutely opposes any abuse of the right to conduct interviews.”

The article said the association was paying “close attention” to the matter.”

via In rare move, China regulator voices concern for detained reporter | Reuters.


China paper in detained journalist plea – BBC News

A Chinese newspaper has published a rare front-page plea for the release of one of its journalists held by police.

A screen shot of New Express front page

The New Express, based in Guangzhou, called for Chen Yongzhou, who was detained last week, to be freed.

The paper said Mr Chen\’s detention was linked to reports he wrote about a part state-owned construction equipment company based in Hunan.

Police in Hunan have confirmed the journalist has been detained for \”damage to business reputation\’\’.

Earlier this year, Mr Chen wrote several reports about Zoomlion, which is partly owned by the Hunan provincial government.

Zoomlion issued a statement after one New Express article, which alleged it had improperly accounted for sales, caused its share price to drop.

In a statement to the Hong Kong stock exchange in late May, the company called the claims \”false, groundless and misleading\”.

via BBC News – China paper in detained journalist plea.


China employs two million microblog monitors state media say – BBC News

More than two million people in China are employed by the government to monitor web activity, state media say, providing a rare glimpse into how the state tries to control the internet.

Sina Weibo

The Beijing News says the monitors, described as internet opinion analysts, are on state and commercial payrolls.

China’s hundreds of millions of web users increasingly use microblogs to criticise the state or vent anger.

Recent research suggested Chinese censors actively target social media.

The report by the Beijing News said that these monitors were not required to delete postings.


China’s internet is one of the most controlled and censored in the world.

Websites deemed to be subversive are blocked. Politically sensitive postings are routinely deleted . Even the name of the former Prime Minister Wen Jiabao was censored when rumours were circulating on the internet that his family had amassed a fortune while he was in power.

But with the rapid growth of internet users, the ruling Communist Party has found itself fighting an uphill battle.

The Beijing News, while reporting the story of microblog monitors, has admitted that it is impossible for the government to delete all “undesirable” postings.

The more postings deleted, the more they appear, it says.

China seldom reveals details about how it monitors and controls the internet. The government even does not acknowledge that it blocks web sites.

But the report does offer a rare glimpse into this opaque world.

They are “strictly to gather and analyse public opinions on microblog sites and compile reports for decision-makers”, it said. It also added details about how some of these monitors work.

Tang Xiaotao has been working as a monitor for less than six months, the report says, without revealing where he works.

“He sits in front of a PC every day, and opening up an application, he types in key words which are specified by clients.

“He then monitors negative opinions related to the clients, and gathers (them) and compile reports and send them to the clients,” it says.

The reports says the software used in the office is even more advanced and supported by thousands of servers. It also monitors websites outside China.

China rarely reveals any details concerning the scale and sophistication of its internet police force.

It is believed that the two million internet monitors are part of a huge army which the government relies on to control the internet.

The government is also to organise training classes for them for the first time from 14 to 18 October, the paper says.

via BBC News – China employs two million microblog monitors state media say.

See also:


* China launches new crackdown on internet celebrities

My personal view is that “the genie is out of the bottle” or that you cannot shut “Pandora’s box” with the Internet and social media.

Telegraph: In its latest bid to contain the often riotous jumble of news and rumour on the Chinese internet, the Communist party has decided to bring the most high-profile and influential voices to heel.

China launches new crackdown on internet celebrities

Before his account was removed, Mr Hao had 1.85 million followers

On Saturday, Hao Qun, a famous 39-year-old novelist and frequent government critic who goes by the pen name Murong Xuecun, found his account on Sina Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, deleted. He tried to open another account but failed.

Before his account was removed, Mr Hao had 1.85 million followers and his postings on the site often went viral.

The world of Weibo, which had 368 million registered users last year, operates much like Speaker’s Corner. Its most famous inhabitants command huge followings and have the power to steer debate in a way that is often uncomfortable for the Communist party.

The deletion of Mr Hao’s account follows a series of actions against other high-profile users.

He Bing, the vice president of the law school at China’s Political Science and Law university was suspended last week “for deliberately spreading rumours”. Prof He, who had close to 500,000 followers, had posted a snippet of news, which later turned out to be false, claiming that there had been a mass stabbing in a hospital in Hefei.

Since the Chinese media is carefully controlled, Weibo has developed into the country’s most important source of news.

And since newspapers and television stations are not allowed to report on many of the topics that are voiced on the internet, rumours often go unchecked and develop their own momentum.

“Some of the [high profile users] have become rumour relay stations,” noted the Global Times in an editorial last week. “Any frequent Weibo user knows that rumours cannot be widely spread unless there is a [high-profile user] helping to spread it,” it added.

“Theoretically they have the right of speech on the internet, but they should also have an equal responsibility. Currently they have no moral responsibility or legal liability for what they post.”

Kaifu Lee, the former head of Google in China, who has more followers (40 million) than Barack Obama does on Twitter (33 million), said he was careful to verify information before posting it on Weibo.

“I realise with the number of followers I have that I need to make sure the messages I forward are legitimate,” he said. “With great power comes great responsibility,” he added.

However, he noted that Weibo already has inbuilt checks that should prevent false news from gaining traction.

“If you suggest something that is clearly false and do not retract it, your reputation (online) will suffer. I think the social ecosystem should largely be self-reinforcing,” he said, adding that Sina already has a type of tribunal system that can rule over the veracity of certain posts.

Mr Lee said he did not know what the purpose of the new government “internet management” campaign was. There already exists a sophisticated censorship system that filters posts and deletes sensitive topics. “I am not in the government, so I cannot say why the government is doing this,” he said.

Zhang Lifan, a historian with almost 270,000 followers said the attempt to control high-profile users would be fruitless. “Shutting them down will not make much difference. For each account they silence, other people will speak up,” he said.

“Of course people should not spread rumours, but the government is using a double standard,” he said. “CCTV (China’s state television station) also sometimes reports the wrong news.”

The campaign appears to have sent a firm message however. Yao Bo, a commentator and restaurateur with close to 900,000 followers said a number of his friends had seen their accounts shut down. “Some of the accounts are shut down for criticising government policy, others for reporting bits of information. I now feel I need to watch what I say before I post something,” he said.”

via China launches new crackdown on internet celebrities – Telegraph.


* Detention of petitioners denounced

China Daily: “Anti-graft officials vow protection of whistle-blowers from retaliation

Officials with China’s top anti-graft authority expressed firm opposition on Tuesday to the detention of petitioners.

Authorities are not allowed to detain petitioners at any level of petition offices and at public venues, said Zhang Shaolong, deputy director of the office of letters and calls of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the Communist Party of China.

It is a legal channel for petitioners to submit whistle-blowing materials face to face to the anti-graft authorities, and the petitioners should receive a warm welcome from anti-corruption agencies, he said.

Zhang made the remarks on Tuesday during an online interview with two other anti-graft officials from the commission.

Under the administrative mechanism in most places, the leading officials will not get promoted if too many petitioners appeal to higher authorities.

Many corrupt officials were exposed by online posts, Zhang said, adding that some inaccurate online information has also made the investigations of corrupt officials difficult.

Among all the cases investigated by the commission last year, about 41.8 percent of the clues were collected from the public whistle-blowers through online reports, letters and calls, Zhang said.

Guo Hongliang, Zhang’s colleague who also attended the online interview, said that the commission has received 301,000 online whistle-blowing reports from 2008 to 2012.

The commission established, its online whistle-blowing website, in October 2009, and the Internet has become one of the most important channels for the commission to collect information, he said.

Deng Jixun, another colleague of Zhang who attended the interview, said that real-name whistle-blowing activities should be encouraged to promote the efficiency of anti-corruption work.

The anti-graft authorities should protect real-name whistle-blowers from being victims of retaliation, he said.

Zhang acknowledged that some officials try to prevent people from petitioning to higher levels of government, and these officials’ behavior should be firmly opposed.

A report in People’s Daily revealed that many petitioners had been detained by the government of Hai’an county in Jiangsu province since March when they tried to visit the anti-graft officials from an inspection team sent by the provincial government.”

via Detention of petitioners denounced |Politics |


* In China, Discontent Among the Normally Faithful

NYT: “Barely two months into their jobs, the Communist Party’s new leaders are being confronted by the challenges posed by a constituency that has generally been one of the party’s most ardent supporters: the middle-class and well-off Chinese who have benefited from a three-decade economic boom.

A Jan. 9 demonstration in Guangzhou, where people protested the censorship of a paper known for investigative reporting.

A widening discontent was evident this month in the anticensorship street protests in the southern city of Guangzhou and in the online outrage that exploded over an extraordinary surge in air pollution in the north. Anger has also reached a boil over fears concerning hazardous tap water and over a factory spill of 39 tons of a toxic chemical in Shanxi Province that has led to panic in nearby cities.

For years, many China observers have asserted that the party’s authoritarian system endures because ordinary Chinese buy into a grand bargain: the party guarantees economic growth, and in exchange the people do not question the way the party rules. Now, many whose lives improved under the boom are reneging on their end of the deal, and in ways more vocal than ever before. Their ranks include billionaires and students, movie stars and homemakers.

Few are advocating an overthrow of the party. Many just want the system to provide a more secure life. But in doing so, they are demanding something that challenges the very nature of the party-controlled state: transparency.

More and more Chinese say they distrust the Wizard-of-Oz-style of control the Communist Party has exercised since it seized power in 1949, and they are asking their leaders to disseminate enough information so they can judge whether officials, who are widely believed to be corrupt, are doing their jobs properly. Without open information and discussion, they say, citizens cannot tell whether officials are delivering on basic needs.

“Chinese people want freedom of speech,” said Xiao Qinshan, 46, a man in a wheelchair at the Guangzhou protests.”

via In China, Discontent Among the Normally Faithful –


keeper @ chindia-alert:

Central government appears determined to let the people’s voice be heard and not censored by local authorities. Good news – if enforced.

Originally posted on China Daily Mail:

Ma Kai

Ma Kai

Politburo member Ma Kai, secretary general of the State Council and Chief of State for the Bureau of Letters and Calls, disclosed yesterday at a TV and telephone conference that supervision and guidance will be intensified this year to resolutely put an end to all the malpractices of “intercepting and blocking common people’s normal petition calls”.

Ma said that officials should regard the people who come to petition as their family members, and the issues raised by them as family affairs.

The national TV and telephone conference of chiefs of bureaus of letters and calls was held yesterday in Beijing. The conference disclosed that the total numbers of letters and calls in the country dropped by 11%, a reduction for eight years in a row. This year, priority will be given to the work of leading cadres at city and county levels going down to receive…

View original 265 more words


* China censorship storm spreads, Beijing paper publisher resigns in protest

Another editor stands for press freedom. Brave man, indeed.

SCMP: “In the aftermath of a rare confrontation between Chinese journalists and Communist Party censors, the publisher of a large Beijing-based newspaper has resigned.


Dai Zigeng, the Communist Party-appointed publisher of the Beijing News, announced his resignation on Tuesday night after a heated argument with propaganda officials over the publication of a controversial editorial, three senior editors at the paper told the Post on Wednesday.  They were all at the scene and heard Dai tell his Communist Party bosses, “I now verbally submit my resignation to you,” in the early hours on Wednesday.

It remains unknown whether Dai’s resignation has been officially accepted by Beijing propaganda authorities.

The Beijing News has a daily circulation of more than half a million, according to its Web site.

The editorial in question, originally published in the nationalistic tabloid Global Times on Sunday, was seen as an official response to the recent strike and protest at the Guangzhou-based Southern Weekly. It blames the clashes at the Guangzhou paper on freewheeling journalists and “hostile foreign forces”. Global Times is a subsidiary publication of the Communist Party’s mouthpiece, People’s Daily.

Propaganda authorities had ordered an unknown number of daily newspapers throughout the country to run the editorial in their Tuesday editions, but only a small number of newspapers complied on that day. Dai and his staff had refused to publish the editorial after they received orders from Beijing Party censors to do so. But a Beijing propaganda official threatened to disband the newsroom and close the newspaper if they continued to disobey.

The Beijing News ran the Global Times editorial on page A20 in Wednesday’s edition . But page editors refused to put their names at the bottom of the page in protest, editors told the Post.”

via China censorship storm spreads, Beijing paper publisher resigns in protest | South China Morning Post.


* China newspaper journalists stage rare strike

I wonder how long and how far central government will tolerate this dissent.

BBC: “Journalists at a major Chinese paper, Southern Weekly, have gone on strike in a rare protest against censorship.

Demonstrators gather along a street near the headquarters of Southern Weekly newspaper in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, 7 January 2013.

The row was sparked last week when the paper’s New Year message calling for reform was changed by propaganda officials.

Staff wrote two letters calling for the provincial propaganda chief to step down. Another row then erupted over control of the paper’s microblog.

Supporters of the paper have gathered outside its office, reports say.

Some of the protesters carried banners that read: “We want press freedom, constitutionalism and democracy”.

Police did not interfere with the protesters outside the paper’s offices, according to reports.

“The Nanfang [Southern] Media Group is relatively willing to speak the truth in China so we need to stand up for its courage and support it now,” Ao Jiayang, one of the protesters, told Reuters news agency.

If the Southern Weekly strike continues for any length of time, this scandal will create a major headache for China’s new leader, Xi Jinping. Since he took the reins of power in Beijing, Mr Xi has generated kudos for his seemingly laid-back, open style of leadership. But the Southern Weekly uproar will force him to reveal his hand when it comes to censorship.

Will he support Tuo Zhen, the zealous propaganda chief who ignited the fracas at Southern Weekly by censoring its editorial message? The highly-popular newspaper has experienced run-ins with government censors in the past, but its stellar reputation has also allowed it to publish hard-hitting reports on a wide range of sensitive topics, from working conditions at Foxconn factories to the spread of HIV in China’s rural areas.

Other major Chinese media outlets have been forced to toe the government line in recent years, leaving Southern Weekly unrivalled in its pursuit of top-level investigative journalism. If Mr Xi allows Southern Weekly’s special status to be wiped away, he risks tarnishing his carefully cultivated reputation as a humble man of the people.

Southern Weekly is perhaps the country’s most respected newspaper, known for its hard-hitting investigations and for testing the limits of freedom of speech, says the BBC’s Martin Patience in Beijing.

Chinese media are supervised by so-called propaganda departments that often change content to align it with party thinking.”

via BBC News – China newspaper journalists stage rare strike.


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