Measures implemented by Chinese authorities in 2013 are “reminiscent of the Mao era four decades ago,” the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) said in a statement accompanying the latest edition of their annual China Press Freedom report.
The press freedom organisation argues that “Chinese authorities continued to tighten their grip on information and media outlets” in 2013.
Among other things, the report — which four journalists from the region contributed to — states that new leader Xi Jiping “set out to strengthen the use of the media as a propaganda tool”. Journalists and bloggers were also forced to make “televised confessions” and “tens of thousands of online messages were deleted, and many websites were shut down”.
The situation for foreign media was also poor, with foreign journalists receiving death threats, and international websites being blocked.
The report also covered Hong Kong and Macau. Journalists in Hong Kong received “verbal and physical abuse” and there were attacks on, and threats to, media owner and outlets. Macau is experiencing “a growing trend to self-censorship”.
The IFJ made a number of recommendations, including calling on the Chinese government to release jailed journalists, stop “arbitrary and unexplained employment terminations” and “order and end to state security misusing the law to intimidate and silence journalists.”
“Press freedom is a human right and the media must be able to perform their professional duties without fear and intimidation,” the group said.