Since Chinese President Xi Jinping came to power, censorship of all forms of media has tightened.
In February 2016, Xi announced new media policy for party and state news outlines: “All the work by the party’s media must reflect the party’s will, safeguard the party’s authority, and safeguard the party’s unity,” emphasizing that state media must align themselves with the “thought, politics, and actions” of the party leadership.
A essay emphasized Xi’s policy, noting that “the nation’s media outlets are essential to political stability.” In 2016, Freedom House ranked China last for the second consecutive year out of sixty-five countries that represent 88 percent of the world’s internet users.
The France-based watchdog group Reporters Without Borders ranked China 176 out of 180 countries in its 2016 worldwide index of press freedom.
China’s constitution affords its citizens freedom of speech and press, but the opacity of Chinese media regulations allows authorities to crack down on news stories by claiming that they expose state secrets and endanger the country.
The definition of state secrets in China remains vague, facilitating censorship of any information that authorities deem harmful [PDF] to their political or economic interests. Economy says the Chinese government is in a state of “schizophrenia” about media policy as it “goes back and forth, testing the line, knowing they need press freedom and the information it provides, but worried about opening the door to the type of freedoms that could lead to the regime’s downfall.” The government issued in May 2010 its first white paper on the internet that focused on the concept of “internet sovereignty,” requiring all internet users in China, including foreign organizations and individuals, to abide by Chinese laws and regulations.
As of February 2017, thirty-eight journalists were imprisoned in China, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, a U. In 2009, Chinese rights activist Liu Xiaobo was sentenced to eleven years in prison for advocating democratic reforms and freedom of speech in Charter 08, a 2008 statement signed by more than two thousand prominent Chinese citizens that called for political and human rights reforms and an end to one-party rule.
Certain websites that the government deems potentially dangerous—like Wikipedia, Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, and some Google services—are fully blocked or temporarily “blacked out” during periods of controversy, such as the June 4 anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre or Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement protests in the fall of 2014.
Specific material considered a threat to political stability is also banned, including controversial photos and video, as well as search terms.
A July 2014 directive on journalist press passes bars reporters from releasing information from interviews or press conferences on social media without permission of their employer media organizations. “By blocking these tools, the authorities are leaving people with fewer options and are forcing most to give up on circumvention and switch to domestic services,” writes Charlie Smith [pseudonym], a cofounder of Free and activist website Great
And in early 2015, the government cracked down on virtual private networks (VPNs), making it more difficult to access U. “If they can convince more internet users to use Chinese services—which they can readily censor and easily snoop on—then they have taken one further step towards cyber sovereignty.” The restrictions mount on a regular basis, adds the Evan Osnos.