Banned books and other forms of censorship

On the banning of books, censorship and other freedom of access issues

Monday, September 11, 2006

China restricts foreign press operations

China's official news agency Xinhua has issued new restrictions demanding that foreign press agencies censor news and information distributed in China and barring them from dealing directly with local clients. The new guidelines prohibit international news agencies such as Reuters from distributing content that "harms China's national security or honour", "disturbs the Chinese economy or social order", "promotes superstition" or "hurts ethnic feelings". The new rules also apply to Hong Kong, which up to now has enjoyed more press freedom than the rest of the country. These rules are seen partly as ideologically driven censorship, but also as a power grab by Xinhua against the competing foreign press agencies.

In recent weeks China has jailed two journalists: Zhao Yan, detained since Sept. 2004, was sentenced to three years imprisonment, originally accused of "revealing state secrets" after a New York Times on leadership change; the charge later changed to fraud. Ching Cheong, a Hong Kong journalist who worked for the Straits Times, a Singapore newspaper, was sentenced to five years in prison in a closed trial after allegedly selling state secrets to Taiwan.

On August 24, Reporters without Borders protested the treatment of
Zhuang Daohe, "who has received no pay for seven months and has been suspended from his editorial job at the Zhejiang University publishing house in southeastern China for writing a book about the way the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) disciplines its members."

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