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China's censors censor press censorship report

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China’s "Ministry of Truth" has been busy again today, ordering websites inside the Great Firewall to delete all mention of its lowly position, fifth bottom, on the latest Press Freedom Index report from Reporters Without Borders.

The directive from the State Council Information Office on Tuesday, obtained by China Digital Times, translates simply as follows:

All websites are kindly asked to delete the article “180 Countries Ranked in 2013 Press Freedom Index; China at 175th” and related content.

While this kind of state-imposed censorship is hardly a new occurrence in ultra-paranoid China, in fact it is a daily occurrence, this particular decree is somewhat ironic given the subject matter of the banned article.

The Press Freedom Index 2014 puts China down two more places from the previous year, now above only Eritrea, North Korea, Turkmenistan, Syria and Somalia.

Despite incoming president Xi Jinping’s stated desire to clean up the Party, hacks who take the initiative themselves and mess with the regime’s carefully constructed narrative will not last long.

The Xi reign has also seen an unparalleled crack down on “rumour-mongering” on social media – effectively silencing the public from saying anything critical of the government.

Reporters Without Borders had this to say:

The daily “directives” to the traditional media from the Department of Propaganda, the constant online censorship, the growing number of arbitrary arrests and the detention of the largest number of journalists and netizens in the world (including 2010 Nobel peace laureate Liu Xiaobo) have made China a model of censorship and repression.

What’s more, the model is spreading throughout Asia, most notably in Vietnam which now sits just one place above China.

Although its press is nominally protected by rule of law and has historically been among Asia’s most independent and vocal, Hong Kong is also inevitably feeling the influence of its motherland, with the majority of media owners here now allied to Beijing.

“The Chinese Communist Party’s growing subjugation of the Hong Kong executive and its pressure on the Hong Kong media through its ‘Liaison Office’ is increasingly compromising media pluralism there,” said RWB.

Rumours abound that radio talk show host Li Wei-ling was sacked this week because of her anti-government stance.

Hong Kong stands in 61st place now, its lowest ever on the index after a three point decline since 2013 and a seven point dip since the year before that.

Elsewhere in Asia, India saw the biggest rise in violence against journalists for the second year running, the report said.

For the record, the UK sat in 33rd, four places down from 2013, the US came in 46th, a whopping 14 place drop, and Australia fared best in 28th, two places down. ®

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