CPJ Blog

Press Freedom News and Views

Madeline Earp

Madeline Earp is senior researcher for CPJ’s Asia Program. She has studied Mandarin in China and Taiwan, and graduated with a master’s in East Asian studies from Harvard. Follow her on Twitter @cpjasia and Facebook @ CPJ Asia Desk.

2011


Blog   |   China

China's jailed Uighurs: Out of sight, not out of mind

Uighur journalists who covered protests such as this one in 2009 were sentenced to harsh prison terms. (AP)

For the first time in more than a decade, China is not the world's worst jailer of the press in CPJ's annual census of imprisoned journalists. Among the 27 jailed in China, one group has seen a massive jump in imprisonments. In another first since CPJ began taking its census, more than half of those behind bars for reporting in China are ethnic Uighur or Tibetan. What's more, two Uighur journalists have been unaccounted for since their scheduled 2011 release. The lack of information available about these cases is added proof that they were arrested to deprive their communities of a voice. 

Blog   |   China, USA

In lawsuit, Chinese writers allege Cisco aids government

In Hong Kong, a protester holds a portrait of the jailed writer Liu Xianbin. (Reuters)

Three Chinese writers who have spent time in prison for articles published online are suing California-based Cisco Systems Inc., according to international news reports. The suit accuses the company of providing information and technology to Chinese authorities that facilitated the writers' detentions--allegations that Cisco flatly denies. Chinese security officials have already interrogated one of the plaintiffs, according to his lawyer. Will the case against Cisco protect him and others in China from further repercussions? 

August 24, 2011 5:20 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

The highs and lows of investigative reporting in China

Veteran investigative journalist Wang Keqin has always been positive about his chosen career, characterizing media restrictions in China as a cycle with ups and downs. In an interview for CPJ's October 2010 special report "In China, a debate on press rights," he told CPJ that "there was a big fall-off in reporting freedom in 2008 and 2009" because of the Olympics and the 60th anniversary of Communist Party rule. But he and many of his colleagues in China anticipated a corresponding loosening of restrictions to follow, pushing the industry toward greater freedom and professionalism over time.  

July 22, 2011 2:10 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

Chinese censorship fans rumors on Jiang Zemin

At a Beijing exhibition, a portrait of Jiang and a security guard. (Reuters)

Sina's Twitter-like microblog platform Weibo blocked searches for "death," "river" and "301 Hospital" on Wednesday, according to The Wall Street Journal website. The company was responding to what Reuters reported was the service's most-discussed topic yesterday--the rumored demise of former President Jiang Zemin, whose surname, Jiang, means "river," and who may or may not have suffered a heart attack that was being treated at top leaders' hospital of choice in Beijing. 

July 7, 2011 5:29 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

Public health still risky topic for Chinese journalists

Public health reporting is improving in China, but not fast enough. A new Human Rights Watch report on child lead poisoning in Chinese cities documents harassment of local journalists trying to cover the problem. "Journalists who reported on the lead poisoning in three of the four locations told Human Rights Watch that police had followed them or forced them to leave the area when attempting to interview people," the report says. 

Blog   |   China

Chinese media freedom in a 'sensitive' period

Madeline Earp speaks in London on Friday on press freedom in China. (BBC)

I was in London on Friday, speaking at a seminar joint-hosted by the BBC Chinese service and the British think tank Chatham House called "Media Freedom in China and the Role of International Broadcasters." There was a lot of impassioned discussion about the range of challenges facing international broadcasters, from slashed budgets to the recent press freedom crackdown. (Chinese speakers can watch my presentation on the BBC website.)

June 6, 2011 5:50 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

U.S-China disagreement, not dialogue, on human rights

The U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue, which concluded in Washington today, may not have produced much in the way of specific commitments on human rights issues. But media appearances surrounding the talks have provided a forum for top leaders to re-state their views in public. 

May 10, 2011 3:54 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

U.S.-China dialogue must keep focus on human rights

Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo, left center, and others at the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue today. (AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
China's powerful State Councilor Dai Bingguo told U.S. officials today that his country was "making progress" on human rights issues, according to Agence France-Presse. The remarks, made at the start of the two-day Strategic and Economic Dialogue, do not bode well for U.S. efforts to keep human rights on the table after last month's exchange on human rights in Beijing. 
May 9, 2011 5:38 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

U.S. rights message falls on deaf ears in China

 Michael Posner said he does not feel comforted from the response or lack of response on the recent detention of Ai Weiwei, seen here. (AP/Andy Wong)

As predicted by CPJ and many other commentators, results of the U.S.-China human rights dialogue this week are less than satisfactory. The U.S. side was more critical than it has been, but China remained defiantly deaf to foreign pressure. 

April 29, 2011 11:22 AM ET

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Blog   |   China, Libya

Al-Jazeera journalist pans China's Libya coverage

In reporting on the Libyan conflict, China's media "emphasize only the humanitarian disasters caused by Western air bombardments, and [report] sparingly if at all on the violent suppression and massacre of the people by Qaddafi," Al-Jazeera's Beijing bureau chief, Ezzat Shahrour, writes on his blog. Chinese readers so far have been largely supportive of his viewpoint.

April 19, 2011 1:58 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

China seizes critics as domestic media avert eyes

Why hasn't the government disclosed Ai Weiwei's status? And why aren't domestic media questioning the government? (AP/Andy Wong)

The Chinese security apparatus is kidnapping government critics, unchallenged by the domestic press. Writer Yang Hengjun, who went missing in March and has since reappeared, criticized the Chinese press this week for failing to report on his enforced disappearance. While state media are accusing the missing artist and social critic Ai Weiwei of plagiarism and being "erratic," according to UK-based The Economist, they are not questioning his apparent, unlawful detention.

April 15, 2011 2:28 PM ET

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Blog   |   Japan

Freelance, online reporting discouraged on nuclear threat

The Japanese government upped the danger rating for the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station to its highest level, 7, on Tuesday, a month after an earthquake and tsunami devastated the country. It was not yet clear whether the administration or the Tokyo Electric Power Company, which runs the plant, withheld the extent of the risk. But the local media's habitual allegiance to officials who arrange press conferences and companies that buy advertising makes it hard to tell, and freelancers who are eager to probe deeper say their questions have been suppressed.

April 14, 2011 6:42 PM ET

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Blog   |   Japan

Freelancer Hiro Ugaya on covering Japan's crisis

Ugaya in tsunami-destroyed Noda Mura village. (Hiro Ugaya)

Following up on our post about the difficulties of covering the aftermath of the Japanese earthquake from outside the mainstream media, CPJ spoke with intrepid freelancer Hiro Ugaya, whom we first interviewed in 2010. "From April 2 to 8, I was traveling in tsunami-destroyed area in Tohoku, northeastern Japan," he told CPJ by email from Tokyo.

April 14, 2011 6:39 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

In Ai Weiwei coverage, a couple of unexpected notes

We reported Thursday that Chinese media reports on Ai Weiwei have reflected his ambiguous status in Chinese law. After several days in which Ai was considered missing, the Foreign Ministry acknowledged police were investigating him for "economic crimes" although it stopped short of saying he was detained. Coverage within China remains very limited, although there have been a couple of surprising, ambivalent notes about his fate. 

April 8, 2011 11:15 AM ET

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Blog   |   China

In China, a state of denial on detentions, abuse

China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Jiang Yu, today denied having heard of Sydney-based Chinese author and blogger Yang Hengjun, according to The Associated Press. We reported yesterday that Yang was missing, presumed to be the latest high-profile writer to fall victim to the government's aggressive roundup of critics who might respond to online calls for a Chinese "Jasmine revolution." Concern for Yang deepened today, after reports emerged that he had called his sister in Guangzhou to say he had been detained. "Having a long chat with old friends" was the pre-arranged phrase they used, AP reported. 

March 29, 2011 3:44 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

Abusive Twitter messages target foreign media in China

Chinese police stand guard near a planned protest site for the "Jasmine Revolution" on February 20 in Beijing. (AP/Andy Wong)

California-based China Digital Times (CDT) reports new Chinese-language Twitter commentators have appeared in the last week. Twitter is generally blocked in China, but heavily used by activists who access it by means of proxy networks overseas. The recent arrivals are vocal supporters of the government's efforts to tamp down nascent "Jasmine Revolution" rallies anonymously organized in Chinese cities the past two Sundays. 

March 2, 2011 2:22 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

Lawyer's footage of house arrest published in China

Men in plainclothes recently harassed at least six foreign journalists in Shandong province. Vivid news footage shoes a group pelting CNN reporter Stan Grant and his photographer with rocks when they tried to visit the home of an activist under house arrest. Brice Pedroletti from France's Le Monde, Stephane Lagarde with Radio France Internationale, and an unnamed New York Times journalist and photographer underwent similar confrontations in February, according to Agence France-Presse. 

Blog   |   Nepal

Nepal's leadership vacuum threatens press freedom

Prime Minister Jhalnath Khanal has already lost some support. (Reuters/Navesh Chitrakar)

Nepal's new Prime Minister Jhalnath Khanal should be setting a new tone. Law and order--and with it, journalists' security--have suffered in the seven months since Madhav Kumar Nepal resigned and has been filling in as interim leader. Khanal could be making public commitments to reversing the atmosphere of impunity that is promoting media attacks. Instead, he is struggling to form a new government amid challenges to his tenuous hold on power.  

February 10, 2011 1:21 PM ET

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Blog   |   India

In Kashmir, Tehelka takes on press freedom abuses

The latest issue of India's Tehelka weekly magazine carries some great reporting on press freedom issues, an effort supported by CPJ and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The article, by Pragya Tiwari, includes many examples of journalists being harassed and assaulted while reporting on clashes between security and separatist groups in Jammu and Kashmir. It begins with a veteran journalist who was beaten to unconsciousness while going through a security checkpoint--despite having all the right paperwork. But the author also outlines systemic problems that are eroding media freedom even on issues beyond the conflict.  

February 2, 2011 4:06 PM ET

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Blog   |   China, Taiwan

Is Taiwan's media independence under threat?

As business relations develop between China and Taiwan, concerns are growing that Taiwan's media freedom may be compromised. The culprits include some journalists themselves, promoting China to preserve their own business interests, and Taiwan's Kuomintang (KMT) government, apparently attempting to exert control over the media through legislation.  

February 1, 2011 5:27 PM ET

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Blog   |   China, Egypt

China limits reporting on Egypt unrest in favor of 'harmony'

Chinese information authorities are filtering results of Chinese-language Internet searches for "Egypt" and "Cairo," according to Global Voices Online and The Wall Street Journal. The unrest raging there could prompt comparison with the student-led protests in Tiananmen Square in 1989 or incite anti-government demonstrations.

January 31, 2011 6:01 PM ET

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Blog   |   Philippines

Suspect says he was hired to silence broadcaster

Police in the southern Philippine province of Palawan have an unusual head start in their investigation of Monday's murder of radio broadcaster Gerardo Ortega. They apprehended the assassin at the scene, with the help of local firefighters and bystanders, and an unusual amount of information about the killing is already in the public domain. 

January 25, 2011 4:52 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

In China, Kristof's blogs are shut down

Nicholas Kristof's Sunday column in The New York Times documents the latest in a series of tests the journalist has performed in Chinese cyberspace. The conflicting results he achieved while setting up a Chinese-language blog and micro-blog demonstrate how difficult it is to judge what censors will permit in an online space.

January 24, 2011 4:19 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

In Chinese media, 'a lot to be done' is left unsaid

It is fair to report, as Agence France-Presse and others did today, that Chinese media largely avoided President Hu Jintao's comments on human rights during a Washington press conference on Wednesday. But the nature of the omission is significant. Chinese reports acknowledged that a discussion of human rights took place between Hu and U.S. President Barack Obama, but omitted the very phrase that dominated international coverage: "A lot still needs to be done," Hu finally acknowledged to reporters. And the context--Hu being challenged during a public press conference--is absent.

January 20, 2011 1:57 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

Chinese reporter's death came days before Hu's U.S. tour

On the heels of a brutal killing of a Chinese reporter, CPJ has asked President Obama to discuss press issues with President Hu Jintao, seen here. (Reuters)

CPJ has written to President Obama asking him to raise press freedom issues when Hu Jintao comes to the U.S. next week. China's practice of restricting and imprisoning reporters domestically has serious implications for the U.S.-China relationship, and a concerning case last month suggests it may be getting worse.