The People’s Republic of China (PRC) is the world's largest prison for journalists, and its regime conducts a campaign of repression against journalism and the right to information worldwide.
Major Chinese media groups, such as Xinhua News Agency, China Central Television (CCTV), China National Radio (CNR), and newspapers China Daily, People’s Daily and the Global Times, are state-owned and directly controlled by the authorities. The Propaganda Department of the Chinese Communist Party sends a detailed notice to all media every day that includes editorial guidelines and censored topics. The state-owned China Global Television Network (CGTN) and Radio China International (RCI) spread the regime’s propaganda all around the world.
In the eyes of the regime, the media’s function is to be the party’s mouthpiece and to impart state propaganda. Independent journalists and bloggers who dare to report “sensitive” information are often placed under surveillance, harassed, detained, and, in some cases, tortured. To receive and renew their press cards, journalists must download the Study Xi, Strengthen the Country propaganda application that can collect their personal data.
The constitution of the People’s Republic of China guarantees “freedom of speech [and] of the press” but the regime routinely violates the right to information, in total impunity. To further silence journalists, it accuses them of “espionage”, “subversion”, or “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”, three “pocket crimes'', a term used by Chinese law experts to describe offences that are so broadly defined that they can be applied to almost any activity. Independent journalists can also be legally placed in solitary confinement for six months under “Residential Surveillance at a Designated Location” (“RSDL”) in China’s “black prisons”, where they are deprived of legal representation and may be subjected to torture.
The industry is very profitable, but almost entirely controlled by the government and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which is considering passing a law to ban all private investment in the media. If passed, this law could cement existing restrictions and tighten the regime’s grip on the media as well as silence remaining independent voices.
President Xi Jinping, in power since 2012, has restored a media culture worthy of the Maoist era, in which freely accessing information has become a crime and to provide information an even greater crime. China’s state and privately owned media are under the Communist Party’s ever-tighter control, while the administration creates more and more obstacles for foreign reporters.
The Chinese regime uses surveillance, coercion, intimidation and harassment to keep independent journalists from reporting on issues it deems “sensitive”. China is the world’s largest jailer of journalists, with more than 100 currently detained.