Cheng Lei, Li Yanhe, Zhang Zhan, and now Dong Yuyu are some of the journalists what have been imprisoned in China for practicing their profession. The regime of Xi Jinping He has been lashing out at the press and silencing dissenting voices for more than 10 years, and he seems determined to continue until the job is done.
Since coming to power in 2013, Beijing has been promoting its campaign against “online rumors” and “vulgar content” just as a cover for its real will that the media in the territory reflect the will of the Game.
“The extension of Xi Jinping’s term This is disturbing news for press freedom, as it will allow the Chinese leader continue the crusade against journalism that he launched ten years ago,” said the head of the Reporters Without Borders Office for East Asia, Cédric Alviani, at the conclusion of the last CPC Congress.
This desire to manipulate the narrative and keep the country immersed in that secrecy characteristic that hinders communication and transparency in the information requires hard work from the authorities, who they chase and imprison to press workers and those who defend their work, to a point that has set off alarm bells around the world.
A report released by Reporters Without Borders stated that more than a hundred journalists are imprisoned for reporting the events as they occurred. This put China near the top of the latest ranking that measures the number of media workers arrested in each country. barely surpassed by Iranwhere protests over the death of Mahsa Amini have heightened tension between society and the authorities, China came second.
Like its Persian counterpart, during the coronavirus pandemic, the Beijing regime also applied a more draconian policy and tightened controls. According to RSF, only in 2020 in wuhan -city where the disease outbreak originated- at least 10 journalists they were arrested for reporting on the health situation there.
Meanwhile, since 2016 and under the banner of “fight terrorism”at least others 71 reporters were arrested for covering campaigns against the uighurs in the northwest of the country.
These tasks, which in much of the world would be taken as normal, in China are considered acts of espionage and even joint work with the “enemies”those powers westerners that only seek to interfere and meddle in the interior of the country.
“Speaking with foreign diplomats is crucial for journalists covering international news,” said Hsu, a representative of the Committee to Protect Journalists in Chinawho warned about the situation of these workers in the country and referred specifically to the case of Yuyu. “Going to the extreme of trying Dong for espionage is absurd and cruel”added.
The penalties for this conviction range from three to ten years in prison, in mild cases, although it can increase up to life imprisonment. This ambiguous parameter with which crimes and punishments are defined leads families, as was the case with Yuyu, to avoid making statements or putting the case in the public eye, for fear that this will anger the authorities.
However, beyond this persecution against the press and the fear that it instills in society as a whole, there is one more issue that alarms human rights organizations. Supplementary investigations by RSF exposed that those who are accused in these contexts they do not agree to fair trials -for which reason they lack a legitimate defense and the processes are carried out behind closed doors- and are systematically detained in “black prisons”. There they are subjected to torture and Inhuman conditions which, in many cases, lead to a severe deterioration of health -and has even led to the death of some inmates-.
“Journalists and press freedom advocates detained in China are almost systematically subjected to ill-treatment and denial of medical care,” Alviani said.
This lack of protection and constant threats against workers has led dozens of journalists and correspondents leave the country for fear of being persecuted, although this only reinforces the position of the authorities.
The lack of a foreign presence in the country, as well as of private media that oppose the official narrative, leads to a strengthening of the regime’s communication channels and the proliferation of its perspective, without obstacles in between.
“If (foreign media) don’t have a correspondent who can film in China, they are more likely to use materials from the Chinese state chain”, explained Lousia Lim, a professor at the University of Melbourne.
It is then that it is crucial that democratic governments around the world fight to put discussions of freedom of expression on the table and do not ignore cases like Yuyu’s. The fight for journalism as a against power it must not be abandoned, even if it is something that Xi Jinping cannot tolerate and wants to pursue until it is eradicated.
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