For yet another year, China has managed to hold onto its traditional spot at 176 on the annual World Press Freedom Index, besting only the states of Syria, Turkmenistan, Eritrea and North Korea.
Released each year by the international organization Reporters Without Borders (RSF), the index ranks 180 countries/territories according to the freedom allowed to journalists. In this year’s write-up, RSF called China “the world’s leading prison for citizen journalists.”
The planet’s leading censor and press freedom predator, Chinese President Xi Jinping, is the instigator of policies aimed at complete hegemony over news coverage and the creation of an international media order heavily influenced by China. In 2015 and 2016, many citizen journalists, bloggers, and human rights activists, including foreign ones, were arrested and forced into confession. In violation of the “fundamental right to due process,” these confessions were broadcast by the state TV news broadcaster, CCTV, and were reported by the state-owned New China news agency. More that 100 journalists and bloggers are currently detained. They include the well-known journalist Gao Yu and three RSF Press Freedom laureates: Lu Yuyu, Li Tingyu and Huang Qi, the founder of the independent news website 64Tianwang.
Last year, President Xi made a high-profile trip to the headquarters of the country’s state media outlets in Beijing, declaring that all media must be “surnamed Party” so that they can give “correct guidance of public opinion” by “singing the main theme, transmitting positive energy.”
All of that singing and positive energy has allowed China to maintain its place in the middle of the bottom ten along with some infamously authoritarian states:
171. Equatorial Guinea
180. North Korea
Meanwhile, Taiwan continues to solidify its status as having the best press freedom in Asia, moving up to 45th on this year’s list, only two spots behind the United States. Hong Kong used to enjoy the continent’s most free press, ranking 34th in 2010, but in recent years the city has been sliding down the list thanks to increased influence and interference from China. This year, Hong Kong ranked just 73rd.
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