Do these newspapers contain "illegal reporting"?

Do these newspapers contain "illegal reporting"?

Last month, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued new restrictions on foreign correspondents and their ability to accurately and independently report news from their homeland–the fast-growing, emerging power that is China. Chinese law already forbids Chinese journalists from working for foreign news sources. The new law, known as the “Code of Conduct,” imposes restrictions on independent reporting and proposes to create a “blacklist” for those Chinese journalists who have been deemed to have engaged in “illegal reporting.” Journalists in violation of the code face dismissal from their posts and might even lose their accreditation. Furthermore, the code requires journalists to “propagate positive information and ideas . . . [about] China’s history, culture and reforms.”

Sophie Richardson, Asia Advocacy Director at Human Rights Watch, is concerned that this is a major step backwards for the Chinese government and its rickety record on human rights. China took long strides toward increasing basic civil liberties and the protection of human rights before the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. It now appears that it has merely placed a Band-Aid on a major wound. The government has applied no real pressure with respect to increasing basic human rights, and measures like this may only continue to hold the country back from being respected in the international community. Furthermore, the new code reenacts a pre-Olympics law which requires reporters from Hong Kong and Macau to obtain permits for every trip they make to mainland China. Last summer, Human Rights Watch published a report which documented media obstruction by government officials and violations of commitments made by the Chinese government to the International Olympics Committee. The report begins with a quote from David Barboza, New York Times Shanghai correspondent: “This is the way the business is [in China]—if you go to some area where they are nervous about foreign journalists, you will be harassed and detained.”

The Foreign Correspondents Club of China (FCCC), an independent news organization, is appalled by the Chinese government’s imposition of the obligation on Chinese journalists to spread “positive information” to foreign media. Furthermore, the FCCC criticizes the government for continuing to adhere to closed, restrictive economic policies. Jonathan Watts, FCCC president, stresses that “the code of conduct is a regression. The intimidation of Chinese assistants runs against the promise of openness made last year.” The Chinese Communist party has abused the media as a vehicle for relaying false and biased news in order to maintain its support base. This has lowered the bar for journalism ethics and accurate reporting, institutionalizing deception and impeding Chinese citizens’ access to information. This law and regressive policy decision moves back toward government interference with the media and hampers a basic human right of access to free and impartial information which exists in developed countries in the Western world and the international community (for more information, see the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 19) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Article 19.2)). In order for China to compete in the global market and to continue to develop, it should reform national laws that impede legitimacy of the press and accurate, independent investigative reporting.

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4 Responses to Freedom of the Press and Confronting Human Rights in China

  1. onlooker says:


  2. hb says:

    That may be, but my own personal definition of “entertainment” is apparently more narrow: “Entertainment” as in entertainment law, with respect to copyright or VARA perhaps. Media bias, speech issues, censorship and human rights generally reside in their own genre(s). And to be quite frank, there are countless journals and blogs devoted solely to those subjects. As I alluded, too many degrees of separation from the actual subject. That’s not to say that the post isn’t interesting or well-written. I just don’t need (or want) to come to this blog to read that kind of material. I come to it because of the specific subject matter of “entertainment” (as I’d like it to be defined) and “technology.” It’s kind of like seeing a restaurant called Luigi’s and then reading the menu which has in addition to the Saltimboca, a smattering of sushi. I didn’t walk into Luigi’s to get the California roll.

  3. Casey says:

    Actually, the Journal often publishes on subjects relating to the media. There are two excellent articles about media bias from David Elder in the past few volumes of JETL.

  4. hb says:

    And this relates to ‘entertainment’ and ‘technology’ how? Directly, I mean. Not disconnected by 52 degrees of separation.