China Tops the World in Jailing Journalists

By Ford, Peter | The Christian Science Monitor, December 17, 2014 | Go to article overview

China Tops the World in Jailing Journalists


Ford, Peter, The Christian Science Monitor


China topped another global list of superlatives Wednesday: Its government has jailed more journalists than any other in the world.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists says in its annual report that 44 reporters languish in Chinese prisons. Second- placed Iran has locked up 30 journalists, according to the report.

The list of imprisoned Chinese journalists is longer than it has ever been since CPJ began keeping records in 1990. That reflects "the increasingly repressive media and general political atmosphere that has evolved" since President Xi Jinping took power two years ago, writes Bob Dietz, coordinator of the CPJ's Asia program, in a commentary published alongside the report.

The number of detainees jumped from 32 last year, partly because Ilham Tohti, a prominent Uighur teacher and blogger, was jailed last month along with six of his Uighur students who worked on the "Uighurbiz" blog.

Nearly half the journalists held in Chinese jails are Tibetan or belong to the Uighur ethnic minority - a predominantly Muslim people from the far Western province of Xinjiang, where the authorities have responded harshly to a rising tide of separatist and religiously inspired violence.

But there has also been an increase this year "in the number of more mainstream, non-minority journalists who found themselves behind bars," Mr. Dietz says.

They include 80-year-old Huang Zerong, who writes under the pen name of Tie Lu. He was arrested in September, not long after he had written an article criticizing the government's propaganda tsar Liu Yunshan that was published on the Internet and in Chinese overseas media. He was later charged with "creating a disturbance" and is in custody awaiting trial. …

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