The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is outraged by the latest round of censorship orders handed down by China’s Central Propaganda Department (CPD) on March 22, banning independent reporting on two major new stories.
The orders stipulated that all information related to Google’s recent decision to withdraw its search engine operations from mainland China and investigations into the Shanxi Province toxic vaccine scandal be sourced exclusively from the state-owned Xinhua News Agency.
The IFJ has also received reports of harassment and intimidation of parents of children affected by the defective vaccines in Shanxi province as well as former officials responsible for the immunisation program, warning them against speaking to the media. The China Economic Times journalist who originally broke the story also has reportedly been under pressure and has been living in fear of threats from unknown quarters.
On March 21, the Central Propaganda Department also issued a total ban on any reporting of the trial of four employees of the multinational mining company Rio Tinto, who have been charged with commercial espionage and bribery.
“Issuing bans against reporting on a major issues of public interest, both domestically and internationally, contradicts China’s repeated promises to foster a more open and free media environment for its people, “ IFJ General Secretary Aidan White said.
“The IFJ reiterates its call for China’s Central government to end reporting restrictions and to honour Premier Wen Jiabao’s pledge of March 5, to encourage more open media policies.”