Wednesday, 23 May 2007
Thomas Mann opened the meeting and introduced the journalist Ms Elisabeth Zingg, Director of the Agency France Presse (AFP) in Strasbourg and Correspondent for the Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF) organisation in Alsace. Ms Zingg reported on the present situation of freedom of the Press in China. She had paid many visitis to China, in the eighties and nineties and there were many similarities between now and then. Ms Zingg explained that RSF is concerned with five main points:
- Editorial control of the media
- The continue imprisonment of Chines journalists
- Internet censorship
- Jamming of international radio stations
- Restrictions on foreign investment in the media
The Chinese Press is allowed to speak on any subject, except certain subject that are taboo. Control of the media is very tight, and managed by the Propaganda Committee, which was recently re-named the Department for Publicity. The taboo subjects are for example, Falun Gon, Tai Wan, Tibet, Health, etc. She mentioned a lawyer who had recently spoke ourt against the Chines government and he was charged with disturbing public order and imprisoned. Newspapers and other publications were harassed and the Chines authorities imposed censorship on certain historical aspects, with the result that officials from two publications were harassed and the Chinese authorities imposed censorship on certain histroical aspects, with the result that officials from two publications were sentenced. There was another case where farmers of small plots came to Beijing to protest about conditions and were imprisoned. The law is even to be strengthened.
Journalists whe have contacts with for foreign media are also put into prison, and there are 32 journalists in prison at the moment. One journalist who contributed to the New York Times was sentenced to three years "for fraud" in 2005, and another was given 10 years for "divulging state secrets" (sending messages to foreign website). It is not allowed to speak about the events at Tian Men Square.
There ar 130 million Internet users in China but it is frequently blocked, either through the service provider or the website. It is not allowed to publish "subversive information" which can "violate the Chinese constituton", and people may be accused "seeking to overthrow the Chines government" or of "incitement to racial hatred". Any negative statements about Tibet are prohibited. It is forbidden to disseminate pornographic, violent or terrorist material.
Radio stations are monitored and jammed, despite international telecommunications laws. A French company had unfortunately been involved in using ALLISS antennas to jam programmes from the Norway-based "Voice of Tibet", the BBC World Service, the Voice of America and Radio Free Asia. Since the both the UK and USA protested but were told that there were "technical problems". Becoaus of this block, the founders of the internationa stations reduce their support, because the programmes cannot reach listeners. Recently the staff of the Chinese service of the BBC was reduced.