2 June 1999


RSF protests censorship affecting foreign and local media

Incident details


(RSF/IFEX) - RSF protests the censorship of the US news channel CNN.

**Updates IFEX alert of 28 May 1999**

According to news agencies' reports, the Public State bureau and the Tourism
bureau have decided to cut access to CNN for many Beijing residents until 8
June 1999. Reuters reported that "the CNN screen went black at around 5 p.m.
on June 1."

Well ahead of the tenth anniversary of the student movement at Tiananmen
Square, the government took steps to prevent attempts to commemorate it and
to restrict the availability of news about any such events. In May, RSF
learned that the accreditation of Taiwanese correspondents in China would
expire at the end of the month and would not be renewed until after 4 June.
At the end of April, police ordered people in charge of hotels and apartment
blocks equipped to receive foreign TV stations via satellite to stop showing
broadcasts by companies in five countries: France, Germany, Italy, Spain and
South Korea. As 4 June drew closer, various foreign channels were preparing
programmes about the Beijing Spring. On 24 May, RSF learned that the
authorities in Shanghai had asked companies supplying news to pager owners
and computer networks to halt their activities temporarily. No explanation
was given. Since mid-May, Chinese cable operators have been told to stop
relaying the programmes of the Hong Kong-based Phoenix Satellite Television
Company until after 4 June.

Chinese authorities have also taken measures to prevent domestic media from
reporting on the 10th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. In
March, the Beijing authorities stopped issuing new publishing licences to
newspapers and magazines until the second half of the year. In April, the
Hong Kong-based newspaper "Ming Pao" reported that the Communist Party
committee in southern Guangdong province had "banned all articles about the
4 June events and improper use of material taken from the internet". The
committee's directive advised newspaper executives to "restrict the number
of articles written by commentators", in case their opinions differed from
those of the party. The local authorities began their campaign against
liberal media in December 1998. The magazine "Cultural Times", published in
Guangzhou, Guangdong province, has been banned since 30 December 1998. Its
editor said "higher authorities" had told the magazine it was not authorised
for sale outside the province, but he believed its "bold and liberal"
editorial line was behind the move. Meanwhile, executive staff of the daily
"Guangzhou-Hong Kong Daily News" were forced to resign after the local
Communist Party committee accused them of "infringement of reporting
regulations and bourgeois liberal propaganda". On 22 January 1999, it was
made known that, further to the publication of articles on the Beijing
Spring in December 1998, "The Shenzhen Illustrated Review" was suspended
indefinitely and "The New Weekly" was suspended for four issues. "The New
Weekly" had reported that after the Tiananmen Square massacre, "9,158
students had been admitted to 32 Beijing hospitals." "Southern Weekend",
often quoted as an example of an independent weekly, which had revealed
several cases of police violence, and the scientific magazine "Fangfa", also
received official warnings. On 12 March, "Fangfa" was suspended indefinitely
by the press and publications board for publishing too many reports of a
political nature, particularly an article written jointly by a member of the
banned Chinese Democratic Party.

Recommended Action

Send appeals to the president:

  • protesting the censorship of CNN and that affecting foreign and local
  • condemning the closure of Chinese newspapers which have published
    unofficial reports on the Tiananmen Square massacre
  • calling on him to intervene so that Chinese citizens may be freely
    informed about the tenth anniversary of the Beijing Spring movement, and
    about the democratic movement in China in general

    Appeals To

    His Excellency President Jiang Zemin
    State Council
    Beijing 100032
    PR of China
    Fax: +86 10 6512 5810

    Please copy appeals to the source if possible.

  • Source

    Reporters Without Borders
    47, rue Vivienne
    75002 Paris, France
    rsf (@) rsf.org

    Fax:+33 1 45 23 11 51
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