Beijing accused over jailed journalists

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 05 February, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 05 February, 2008, 12:00am

China has been named the world's 'leading jailer of journalists' by an international press-freedom watchdog, which says 29 reporters and editors were imprisoned last year on the mainland.

The Committee to Protect Journalists unveiled the figures in its annual report released in Hong Kong yesterday.

It also reported that 65 journalists were killed throughout the world as a direct result of their work, with 32 of the victims in Iraq, making 2007 the deadliest year for the profession since 1994.

The committee's views were supported by Hong Kong Journalists Association chairwoman Tsai Fan-ho and Ying Chan, director of the Journalism and Media Studies Centre at the University of Hong Kong.

They called for the release of Hong Kong journalist Ching Cheong, convicted of spying in April 2005, and Aids activist Hu Jia, arrested at the end of last year on charges of subversion. Ms Tsai said that despite petitions and negotiations with the central government, there had been no sign of it softening its stance on Cheong.

Professor Ying said: 'The government tries to control the media, and the media is trying to fight back. One may describe China with three 'Cs' - control, changes and chaos.'

The committee criticised Beijing for failing to live up to its promise to loosen state controls on the media.

Its Asia programme co-ordinator, Bob Dietz, said there was growing censorship on internet content, with half of the 29 jailed writers arrested after uploading their stories to the internet.

He urged the central government to relax state controls on interviews and the movement of foreign journalists on the mainland, and to ensure that any opening to the news media during this year's Olympic Games remain in force afterwards.