Entries in Censorship (5)


Chinese Newspaper Fights for Press Freedom

George Doyle/Thinkstock(BEIJING) -- In Guangzhou, China, a rare public fight over press freedom continues.

Reporters and editors from the newspaper the Southern Weekly are negotiating a return to work after objecting to government censorship.

A New Year’s editorial calling for increased press freedom was so watered down by propaganda officials it eventually ran as a piece praising government policy.

Southern Weekly is known as a relatively liberal publication in a country dominated by heavily-controlled, pro-party media.

The incident is causing an online uproar in China, lighting up China’s Twitter with support from noted commentators and some of the country’s biggest celebrities.

On Monday, a State Department spokesman said the U.S. hopes the Chinese government is taking note.  
Many are asking how China’s new leader, Xi Jinping, will respond.  He has pledged a commitment to reform but has not yet taken significant steps outside his predecessor’s path.

An editorial in the Global Times -- a party-backed paper -- criticized Southern Weekly for "challenging the system."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


China Kicks Out Foreign Journalist

George Doyle/Thinkstock(BEIJING) -- China has kicked out an accredited foreign journalist for the first time since 1998.

Observers fear that the decision to expel Melissa Chan of the Al Jazeera English-language television network is an indication that China is cracking down on foreign media in an attempt to control coverage going forward, particularly during a year of government transition that has already seen two major stories erupt.  Chan’s expulsion was not related to either story.

Coverage of the Bo Xilai scandal, which involved a top politician, corruption and allegations of murder, has been stymied. So has public discourse on any potentially sensitive topic. 

Online censorship is rampant. China ranks 174th out of 179 countries (just ahead of Iran and Syria) on press freedom, according the Reporters Without Borders.  But longtime China hands also say the situation has improved in China, at least for foreign journalists, and that periods such as these are all part of the job of reporting in China.

Melissa Chan, a U.S. citizen, covered China for five years as the Beijing-based correspondent for Qatar-based Al Jazeera.  She reported extensively on sensitive topics, including the imprisonment of petitioners from the countryside in unofficial “black jails” and the annual anniversary of the June 4, 1989, massacre of democracy protestors.

In a Twitter feed posted Tuesday from the United States, Chan wrote, ‘Yes my press credentials have been revoked and I will no longer report f/China.’

She is expected to begin a Knight Fellowship at Stanford University in California in the fall.

The director of Al Jazeera has defended Chan and the network, saying in a statement, “We constantly cover the voice of the voiceless and something that calls for tough news coverage from anywhere in the world.  We hope China appreciates the integrity of our news coverage and our journalism.”

Repeated attempts by Chan to renew her journalist visa were denied by the Chinese government until she could no longer legally remain in the country.

Al Jazeera said in a statement that China was not granting permission to replace Chan, forcing the network to close its English-language service’s bureau.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Twitter to Censor Tweets Country By Country?

SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images(SAN FRANCISCO) -- Twitter announced Thursday that it now has the ability to selectively block tweets country by country.

A post, titled "Tweets still must flow," on the company's blog Thursday said that, until now, administrators at the micro-blogging site could only account for any one country's mandated limits on expression by removing content globally.  As of Thursday, Twitter now has the ability to "reactively withhold content from users in a specific country -- while keeping it available in the rest of the world," the blog post states.  The site also notes users can be notified when content is blocked and why.

Twitter explained that international growth means entering "countries that have different ideas about the contours of freedom of expression." For example, the company notes France and Germany's restriction on pro-Nazi content.

Though Twitter has not used this ability yet, but says it plans to maintain transparency with users by notifying them of blocked content and clearly identifying content that's been withheld.

Some of the site's users have already expressed their opposition to the decision's impact on freedom of expression.

"Say goodbye to your global twitter community," tweets the user @Steckel.

"All aboard the Censor Ship!" @YourAnonNews writes.

It should be noted that Twitter has been key to groups organizing some of the last year's biggest social and political events -- namely the London riots, the Occupy movement and the Arab Spring. Iran and Egypt both blocked the service in retaliation to the protests being organized via Twitter. The service also does not operate in China, but similar sites have become popular there.

Promoters of free speech are sure to be unhappy with the announcement. Still, Twitter maintains it will be true to user expression.

"One of our core values as a company is to defend and respect each user’s voice. We try to keep content up wherever and whenever we can, and we will be transparent with users when we can't. The Tweets must continue to flow," the company says.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Chinese Censors Block Jiang Zemin's Name Following Death Rumor

SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images(BEIJING) -- Chinese censors have blocked Internet sites mentioning Jiang Zemin, after a story sprang up that the former leader had died.

The rumor that the 84-year-old passed away started last Friday after he did not appear at the 90th anniversary celebration of the Chinese Communist Party's founding. When the story began to catch fire, Jiang's name, along with words related to the rumor, were promptly blocked.

The Chinese government has suffered derision for its inability to control the numerous microblogging sites, like, where users have devised loopholes to government's control over the Internet.

Jiang, who came to power as party secretary in 1989, is credited with opening up China's markets and reducing government control over businesses.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Time Travel in China to Become a Thing of the Past?

Comstock/Thinkstock(BEIJING) -- Imagine a world with no Star Trek, no Terminator, no Back to the Future, no Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.  For the 1.3 billion people of China that gray, empty existence could well become their reality.

It’s no secret that many topics get the Chinese government’s goat.  Falung Gong, the Dalai Lama, the Nobel Peace Prize -- all are strictly taboo in this tightly controlled society.  But now, China’s censors have a new target: time travel.

In a statement issued on March 31, the State Administration for Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) denounced movies and shows that contain "fantasy, time-travel, random compilations of mythical stories, bizarre plots, absurd techniques, even propagating feudal superstitions, fatalism and reincarnation, ambiguous moral lessons, and even a lack of positive thinking."

In recent years, time-travel television dramas have become increasingly popular but authorities are now making it clear that history, and who gets to dictate it, is no laughing matter.

"Time-travel dramas are becoming a hot theme for television and films.  But the content and exaggerated performance style are questionable," Li Jingsheng of SARFT said.  "Producers and writers are treating serious history in a frivolous way, which should by no means be encouraged anymore."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio