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Asia

Blog   |   China

Criticism and jokes off limits ahead of G20 summit in Hangzhou, China

An empty refrigerator at a convenience store at West Lake, in Hangzhou, China, on August 31 bears a sign that reads 'During G20, beverages and dairy products are not allowed to be purchased and are sold out. Thanks.' Authorities have ordered the media not to report on inconveniences caused by the summit. (Reuters/Aly Song)

The city of Yuyao, in China's Zhejiang province, is 70 miles away from Hangzhou, where leaders of the world's 20 leading economies will gather September 4 and 5 for the annual G20 summit. Nonetheless, on August 26, democracy activist You Jingyou and his wife were subject to extra security checks at the train station in Yuyao, where they went to board a train to their home of Fuzhou, in Fujian province--a train that would not even pass by Hangzhou.

Blog   |   China

As Beijing tightens grip on Hong Kong media, mainland journalists suffer

A cover of Time magazine on display in Hong Kong, July 22, 2016, features portraits of Chinese leader Xi Jinping and former leader Mao Zedong. (AP/Vincent Yu)

On August 1, prominent Chinese human rights lawyer Wang Yu, who had been detained incommunicado for over a year, reemerged--with an unusual twist on an old script. Wang gave a TV interview in which she renounced her legal work and accused foreign forces of using her to "attack" and "smear" the Chinese government; the report claimed she'd just been released on bail. The public statement of guilt without trial is part of an established pattern in China, with more than a dozen such "confessions" delivered by human rights activists, journalists, and writers. But this time, the state-owned China Central Television (CCTV) failed to play a role. Instead, the interview was carried by a website affiliated with the Hong Kong newspaper Oriental Daily.

Blog   |   Philippines

Philippine leader blows hot and cold on press freedom

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, center, speaks with journalists in June. The new leader has given mixed messages on press freedom. (AFP/Manman Dejeto)

Newly installed Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has sent mixed messages on his commitment to upholding press freedom and combating impunity in media murders, a mix of hope and fear that has broadly defined the first months of his leadership. Uncertainty about Duterte's stance on the media's watchdog role comes against the backdrop of a "war on drugs" campaign that has resulted in the killing by police and vigilante groups of hundreds of drug suspects.

Blog   |   China

China shuts down internet reporting as Xi's sensitivity begins to resemble lèse-majesté

A Chinese security officer holds the media rope as U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice, background left, and Chinese President Xi Jinping, right, are seated for photographers at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on July 25, 2016. Xi's increasing intolerance of negative coverage has approached a kind of lèse-majesté. (AP/How Hwee Young)

On July 1, popular internet portal Tencent, in its original news reporting section, published an article on a speech that President Xi Jinping gave the same day at a conference celebrating the 95th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party. One line of the article read, "Xi Jinping outburst an important speech." To any reader who speaks Chinese, the sentence clearly included a typo and its meaning was, "Xi Jinping delivered an important speech."

Blog   |   Maldives

Closure of news outlets signals further erosion of media freedom in the Maldives

News outlets in the Maldives are closing down, one after another. The story at each publication is different, sometimes complicated, but the outcome is the same: journalists are facing a tougher time doing their jobs.

Blog   |   China

China's information and internet controls will only tighten under Xu Lin

Chinese President Xi Jinping, center, talks with Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg, right, as Lu Wei, left, China's Internet czar, looks on at Microsoft's main campus in Redmond, Washington, on September 23, 2015. Lu Wei left the Cyberspace Administration of China at the end of June. (AP/Ted S. Warren)

When the new director of the Cyberspace Administration of China, Xu Lin, issued on July 3 a warning that websites not report unverified content drawn from social media without facing possible punishment, it was clear that Beijing would move quickly beyond the Lu Wei era of information control. The announcement demanded that news websites provide "correct guidance for public opinion"--correct, clearly, in the eyes of the Cyberspace Administration, and ultimately the Chinese Communist Party. The warnings suggest that the harsh controls implemented by Lu could become even more severe.

Blog   |   Mongolia

Mongolian election unlikely to advance press freedom

Women walk past posters of candidates from the Mongolian People's Party on the outskirts of the capital, Ulaanbaatar, on June 27, 2016. The election on June 29 is unlikely to have a strong impact on press freedom in Mongolia. (Reuters/Jason Lee)

During a visit to Mongolia this month, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry hailed the country as "an oasis of democracy." Mongolia, sandwiched between powerful autocratic neighbors Russia and China, underwent democratic transition in 1990 when it broke away from Soviet rule, and has since held several elections characterized by the Asia Foundation as "reasonably free and fair." The next exercise in democracy will be the parliamentary election Wednesday.

Blog   |   Vietnam

Vietnamese jailed blogger moved to distant province, wages hunger strike

Tran Huynh Duy Thuc was sentenced to 16 years in prison in 2010. (AP/Hoang Hai/Vietnam News Agency)

On May 7, my uncle, imprisoned Vietnamese blogger Tran Huynh Duy Thuc, was unexpectedly moved from the Xuyen Moc prison camp situated near our family in Ho Chi Minh City to another detention facility about 1,500 kilometers away known as Camp No. 6 in central Nghe An province. His family was not informed in advance about the transfer and we only learned about it from the relative of a fellow prisoner of conscience being held at the same prison.

The next day, we traveled to Xuyen Moc prison to inquire about the move with authorities, who only confirmed the information and gave us the new detention camp's address. They said his transfer was in accordance with an order issued on May 5 by the General Bureau of Criminal Judgments Enforcement and Justice Assistance (General Bureau 8) under the Ministry of Public Security. They would not, however, provide us with an explanation for the reason behind his sudden transfer.

June 21, 2016 10:53 AM ET

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Blog   |   Afghanistan

By now, Afghan authorities should know media are not the enemy

Police and firefighters are seen at the site of a suicide blast in Kabul on June 20, 2016. Several journalists were obstructed from reporting at the scene. (Reuters/Mirwais Harooni)

Several journalists in Kabul--the exact number is unclear--were beaten, harassed, and kept from working by security forces when they rushed to cover a suicide bombing on Monday that killed 14 people and wounded more than eight. In an email message, the Afghan Journalists Safety Committee (AJSC), an organization with which we work closely, said when the correspondents and camera crews arrived near the site of the explosion, they were stopped by the police, and some of them beaten. AJSC identified Mohammad Ghazi Rasouli, a television correspondent; reporter Tawfik Khoja Siddiqui; and a journalist who works for a Turkish news agency ANP as among those harassed.

June 20, 2016 2:59 PM ET

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Blog   |   Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan journalist Freddy Gamage back in hospital, still under threat

Back on June 3, we called for "a thorough investigation into an attack" on Freddy Gamage, a muckraking editor and blogger for Meepura.com (and in Sinhala). At the time, the government promised on its official website that it "would never again allow media suppression, which prevailed during the past, to reoccur." Prime Mister Ranil Wickremesinghe personally and quickly condemned the June 2 assault, according to press reports.

June 14, 2016 12:58 PM ET

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