Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Media censorship in China and Tibet

From a Reporters Without Borders statement released today:
"The freedom of movement for foreign journalists had been one of the few positive developments ahead of the Olympic Games. . ."

"Yet again the Chinese government is trampling on the promises it made linked to the Olympics and has preparing the ground to crackdown on the Tibetan revolt in the absence of witnesses."

"Online censorship is also veering into racism, with comment items urging the killing of Tibetan separatists, while all independent news on the events is being censored," the organisation added.

The authorities have refused entry to Tibet to foreign correspondents since 12 March . . .

The Foreign Correspondents Club of China said at least 25 journalists, 15 of them from Hong Kong, had been expelled from Tibet or Tibetan areas, particularly Xiahe in Gansu province.
From a UPI report that was just released:
YouTube said it had seen "reports of users being unable to access" the site in China. "We are looking into the matter, and working to ensure that the service is restored as soon as possible," the statement said.

Blocking YouTube and censoring other sites is part of what activists say is a Chinese government campaign to control information about the Tibetan protests, which erupted last week in the capital, Lhasa, on the 49th anniversary of a failed uprising that forced the Dalai Lama into exile.

Such moves are "a key component of the Chinese authorities' efforts to stop these protests," Matt Whitticase of the Free Tibet Campaign told UPI from London. "They are seeking to isolate the protesters both on the ground and on the Internet."
He said that Tibet advocates had long been subject to cyberattacks he was sure originated in China.

Whitticase said that he and other activists "regularly receive e-mails with attachments designed to look like something we would want to open" such as a flyer about a meeting. The attachments contained malicious software, he said. "Most of them are easy to spot," he added, because they contained obvious spelling or other errors, but "some of them are very sophisticated."

Xiao Qiang, associate professor at the University of Berkeley School of Journalism and the founder of China Digital Times, told UPI in an e-mail message that although the Chinese official media had finally broken its silence about the protests at the weekend, the comment sections had been closed on pages carrying stories about them.
Reporters Without Borders, UPI

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