China issues 62 media bans in 2009 as web censorship intensifies

Hong Kong: China issued 62 media blackouts in 2009, banning media from reporting on issues ranging from public protests to photos of a topless actress in the Caribbean, according to a report Sunday.

The report by the International Federation of Journalists listed the bans newspapers and magazines in China were subjected to and said journalists in China face a “range of impediments”.

Released in Hong Kong Sunday, it also detailed what it called “intensifying efforts of authorities since early 2009 to control online content and commentary”.

Bans in 2009 included a blackout on topless photos of actress Zhang Ziyi taken on a Caribbean beach in January, and one in May against reporting on former premier Zhao Ziyang’s memoirs.

In April, media were instructed not to report the complaints of parents of children killed in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. In July, they were told to use only official Xinhua news agency reports on the Xinjiang ethnic riots.

In November, they were told to not report elections in Hong Kong and they were told to use only Xinhua’s coverage of US President Barack Obama’s visit to China.

The federation’s general secretary Aidan White said it supported US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s call on US companies to take a stand against censorship in China following the Google row.

He criticised what he called “the steady stream of official bans as well as new rules in 2009 which make it virtually impossible for local journalists… to receive the accreditation they need in order to conduct their profession.”

“(The list) indicates that much as China’s censors are maintaining a vigilant eye, they are also struggling to maintain a grip on information dissemination,” White said.

Leave a Reply