Global media watchdog Reporters Without Borders recently released the 2011-2012 Press Freedom Index, and once again China came in at the very bottom reaches of the international rankings – just ahead of Iran and Syria (Eritrea came in last place, and Finland first). Here is what the full report had to say about China:
China, which has more journalists, bloggers and cyber-dissidents in prison than any other country, stepped up its censorship and propaganda in 2011 and tightened its control of the Internet, particularly the blogosphere. The first protest movements in Arab countries and the ensuing calls for democracy in China’s main cities set off a wave of arrests with no end yet in sight.
In the autonomous regions of Tibet, Inner Mongolia and Xinjiang, protests by minorities regularly gave rise to a harsh crackdown by the authorities. In Beijing and Shanghai, international correspondents were particular targets of the security forces and had to work under the continual threat of expulsion or having their visas withdrawn. Journalists were prevented from covering most of the events that threatened China’s stability or might have given it a negative image.
According to RWB, China has moved further away from a free press over the past two years, falling three slots in the global index since 2010. Regardless of netizen speculation that the media may be liberalizing, the Standing Committee has made it clear that, at least as far as Internet control is concerned, the near future will see tightening constraints.