To commemorate the UN’s World Press Freedom Day (3 May), we would like to share insights from experts from the Australian Centre on China in the World community about recent issues and ongoing challenges with press freedom in China.
According to Reporters Without Borders, China ranked 177 out of 180 countries in the 2020 World Press Freedom Index, with more than 150 journalists and citizen journalists imprisoned to date.
The COVID-19 crisis has further eroded press freedom in China as Beijing attempts to influence global media. In ‘Expulsion of WSJ Journalists’ and ‘Expelling Journalists’ from Neican, The China Story Blog, Yun Jiang and Adam Ni uncover Beijing’s true motives and ambitions behind the expulsion.
“Such deplorable actions by Beijing makes it harder for the world to know the ‘real’ China story,” write Yun and Adam.
As the Hong Kong protests escalated in the second half of 2019, journalists covering the protests experienced increasing violence from the police and pro-Beijing protestors. In their chapter ‘Hong Kong and the Tiananmen Playbook’ in the China Story Yearbook: China Dreams, Louisa Lim and Graeme Smith highlight how Chinese state-run media often use false accusations to distract people from the truth and facts about the protests, to the point where it labelled the protests as the works of western anti-China forces.
These recent events are only a glimpse of President Xi Jinping’s efforts to tighten his control over the media. In ‘Cooking the News: Xi’s Digital Future’ from The Little Red Podcast, Graeme and Louisa, with David Bandurski and Qian Gang of the China Media Project, explore how the Chinese Communist Party projects its image in the Xi era through traditional and social media platforms.
Is there any hope for journalism in China, you may ask yourself?
In her interview with the editors of Made in China Journal, Maria Repnikova claims that there are “grey zones where sensitive, but semi-permissible, issues continue to be probed by journalists and media activists in China”, which allow for small pockets of creativity and for some testing of the boundaries.
Photo credit: 捍衛新聞自由 Safeguard Press Freedom You can't kill us all!, Leung Ching Yau Alex/Flickr.