Friday, May 10, 2013

The Chinese Government's 2013 Critique of Free Speech in America in Perspective

On April 21, 2013, China's official news service Xinhua published an article entitled "China Hits Back with Report on U.S. Human Rights Record." Some excerpts:
China on Sunday retorted the U.S. criticism and distortions of its human rights situation by publishing a report of the U.S. human rights record.
The Human Rights Record of the United States in 2012 was released by the Information Office of China's State Council, or the Cabinet, in response to the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2012 issued by the U.S. State Department.
China in the report argued that there are serious human rights problems in the U.S. which incur extensive criticism in the world, as it has posed as "the world judge of human rights" again.
"As in previous years, the reports are full of carping and irresponsible remarks on the human rights situation in more than 190 countries and regions including China," China said in its report. "However, the U.S. turned a blind eye to its own woeful human rights situation and never said a word about it."
Here is the complete text of the report's discussion of free expression:
On September 17, 2012, or the first anniversary of Occupy Wall Street’s initial demonstration, confrontations between protesters and police around the Wall Street resulted in the arrests of more than 100 people. The US journalist community is worried about the continued toughening up of legislation on mass media. It is frequent that journalists in the US lose their jobs because of “politically incorrect” opinions.
Occupy Wall Street. These screenshots were taken on October 21, 2011, and show that, while users of Sina's and Tencent's Weibo microblogging services could search for "Occupy Wall Street," (占领华尔街) searches for "Occupy Beijing" (占领北京) returned no results. In the case of Sina, the user is told: "In accordance with relevant laws, regulations, and policies, search results have not been displayed." (根据相关法律法规和政策,搜索结果未予显示。)

Toughening up of legislation on mass media.  On April 16, 2013, China's state-sponsored media reported that the General Administration of Press, Publication  Radio, Film, and Television (国家新闻出版广电总局) issued a "Notice Regarding Strengthening Management of Online Activities of News Editorial Personnel (关于加强新闻采编人员网络活动管理的通知). That Notice stipulated:
  • "No news outlets may utilize overseas media or overseas website news information products without prior authorization." (未经批准,各类新闻单位均不得擅自使用境外媒体、境外网站的新闻信息产品).
  • "News editors must persist on encouraging unity and stability, and on the guiding principle of focusing on positive propaganda." (新闻采编人员要坚持团结稳定鼓劲、正面宣传为主的方针)
  • "Do not use or report Internet information that has not been verified through authoritative channels." (不引用、不报道未通过权威渠道核实的网络信息)
  • "News outlets may not provide information from news informants, commissioned authors, civil society organizations, or commercial groups on their news web sites without prior authorization." (未经核实,新闻单位所办新闻网站不得擅自发布新闻线人、特约作者、民间组织、商业机构等提供的信息)
For more on the Chinese Communist Party's approach to legislating the mass media, see this post:

Journalists in the US lose their jobs. These screenshots show that on the morning of January 4, 2013, Sina Weibo began censoring searches for "Southern Weekend Raped." (南方周末 被强奸) To understand why, see this post: