Dharamshala: China continues to remain as the world’s worst abuser of press freedom and jails the largest number of journalists in its prisons, according to Reporters Without Borders (RSF) on 13 July.
In commemorating the 2nd death anniversary of Liu Xiaobo, a Nobel peace laureate and winner of the RSF Press Freedom Prize, the Reporters Without Borders reiterated that China remains the biggest prison for both professional and citizen journalists, with at least 112 of them behind bars of whom several are serving life sentences.
In its newly released 2019 World Press Freedom Index, Reporters Without Borders evaluated 180 countries in terms of journalistic freedom and the degree to which governments across the world censor their own press. China is ranked 177th, with only Eritrea, North Korea and Turkmenistan ranked worse.
Taiwan and Hong Kong, the two island nations that Beijing claims as part of its territory, are ranked 42nd and 73rd respectively in the latest World Press Freedom Index.
The index says that Beijing’s baleful influence has led to a decline in press freedom in Hong Kong and Taiwan by means of exerting pressure on Taiwanese and Hong Kong media owners—often with business interests on the mainland and also through orchestrating online disinformation campaigns in the region.
The press freedom watchdog also warned that Xi Jinping’s totalitarian vision of “new world media order”—a project “Less well known than the Belt and Road Initiative but just as ambitious”—poses a direct threat to press freedom and democracies across the world.
More on Beijing’s New World Media Order, RSF said, “Over the course of the last decade, China has actively sought to establish a “new world media order” under its control, an order in which journalists are nothing more than state propaganda auxiliaries.”
The aim is to deter and prevent any criticism of itself.
According to the index, more than 60 journalists and bloggers are currently detained in conditions that pose a threat to their lives.
Liu Xiaobo, a Nobel peace laureate and winner of the RSF Press Freedom Prize, and Yang Tongyan, a dissident blogger, both died in 2017 from cancers that were left untreated while they were detained in Chinese prisons.
Liu Xiaobo died on July 13, 2017, of untreated liver cancer while in detention. In a manifesto published online in 2008, Liu Xiaobo pleaded for peaceful political reforms, including the enforcement of press freedom, for which he was sentenced to 11 years in prison.
RSF reported that under tougher Internet regulations, internet users in China can now be jailed for the comments on a news item that they post on a social network or messaging service or even just for sharing posts.
“Despite the international turmoil caused by this assassination, Beijing persists in its policy of systematic ill-treatment of detained journalists,” denounced Cédric Alviani, head of the Reporters Without Borders’ East Asia bureau, who called on the international community to “intensify the pressure on the regime to release all defenders of freedom of the press.”