China: Questions about freedom of information will be relayed to Chinese vice-president 1/1
Reporters Without Borders / 无国界记者 / 新闻稿 / Communiqué de presse 2012.02.15
Reporters Without Borders has questions to put to Xi Jinping, the Chinese vice-president who began a two-day visit to Washington today, and urges Internet users all over the world, including China, to contribute by posting their own questions on US or Chinese web platforms. A list of questions will made public and sent to the Chinese delegation visiting the United States.
“We have sent the Chinese authorities many letters in the past, some open and some confidential, but none has received a reply,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Using a different method of communication may not suffice to elicit a response this time either, but we would also like to show that our questions and concerns are shared by other Internet users all over the world.
“As the system for registering Chinese Internet users under their real identity (实名制) does not take effect until 16 March, there is still time to put legitimate questions to Xi Jinping without being accused of ‘attempted subversion’ or ‘disturbing public order.’ It would be interesting to repeat the exercise after 16 March as it is likely that, when forced to identify themselves, fewer Internet users will be ready to voice their views freely on such a sensitive subject.
“All social networks are censored in China. But the authorities must realize that it unrealistic to try to exercise absolute control over news and information in a country that has more than 500 million Internet users and more than 300 million microbloggers. And if Internet users do not feel free to express themselves on the main web platforms, they can still conduct anonymous debates on the many forums that do not verify their identity.”
Vice-President Xi, who is expected to replace Hu Jintao as Communist Party secretary-general later this year and then succeed him as president next year, was due to meet with US President Barack Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden today.
Reporters Without Borders is making various web platforms available to Internet users who want to ask questions about freedom of information and media freedom. All aspects of these issues – legal, technical or political – may be addressed. A selection of the questions that have been posted online will be sent by Reporters Without Borders at 12:00 GMT tomorrow (15 February) to the Chinese delegation in the United States, via the US State Department.
To submit their questions, Internet users may connect to the Reporters Without Borders accounts on the following social networks:
Facebook : facebook.com/Reporterssansfrontieres
Twitter : @RSFAsiaPacific, @RSF_Asia (中文)
Reporters Without Borders advises Internet users, especially those in China, who would like to connect to the following platforms to take a great deal of care. The use of anonymous accounts is strongly recommended.
Renren (人人): 无国界记 : http://www.renren.com/443187218/profile ;
China is ranked 174th out of 179 countries in the latest Reporters Without Borders press freedom index and has been classified as an “Enemy of the Internet” for years because of its system of Internet censorship and surveillance, which is one of the most sophisticated in the world.
- English: http://en.rsf.org/china-questions-about-freedom-of-14-02-2012,41868.html
- 中文： http://www.rsf-chinese.org/spip.php?article644
China: Questions about freedom of information will be relayed to Chinese vice-president 2/2
Reporters Without Borders addressed the following open letter to Chinese Vice-President Xi Jinping today, after asking Internet users yesterday to put questions to him about freedom of information in China via the social networks we use. The accounts that we specially created for this purpose on several Chinese social networks were quickly blocked. We regret that the Chinese censors did not allow their fellow citizens to participate in a debate that was meant to be constructive.
Mr. Xi Jinping Vice-President of the People’s Republic of China
Paris, 15 February 2012
Dear Vice-President Xi,
Reporters Without Borders, an organization that defends freedom of information and media freedom, has been calling for more than 25 years for the decriminalization of media offences in China, for the abolition of state censorship of the Chinese media, for the free flow of information in the country and online, and for the release of journalists and Internet users who are detained just for publishing information which the judicial authorities regard as criminal.
Aside from a brief contact with the Chinese authorities in 2007, Reporters Without Borders has been completely unsuccessful in its attempts to establish a constructive dialogue with China on these issues, as it has done with other governments in Asia and the rest of the world.
As you are currently on a visit to Washington and have said that China is ready for a “candid dialogue” on human rights, Reporters Without Borders reiterates its proposal to start a dialogue on freedom of information and its readiness to help the Chinese government in every way possible in a task that is also its responsibility and duty – improving freedom of information in China.
In a message to Internet users yesterday, Reporters Without Borders offered to channel their questions about media freedom to you. This initiative was intended to be another attempt at dialogue, as all the previous attempts have failed.
We would like to point out to you that Reporters Without Borders is an independent organization whose concerns and criticisms are just the result of many requests for help from Chinese citizens and foreign residents in China, and do not in any way reflect a desire to meddle in China’s internal affairs.
Twenty-four hours after our proposal to Internet users, we now submit to you some of the questions we received. The “Reporters Without Borders” accounts we opened on the Sina Weibo and Renren platforms in order to make it easier for Internet users in China to send us their questions were unfortunately blocked. Although they are the most directly affected, Internet users in China were unable to have their questions freely relayed by Reporters Without Borders.
The following questions emerged from this brief exercise:
Chinese Internet users often speak out about cases of corruption or abuse of authority by officials. Can you guarantee them real online freedom of expression so that they can continue to speak out on matters of general interest? Why are foreign journalists often prevented from moving freely about the country and from interviewing willing persons although both of these activities are permitted by the regulations that are in effect?
The international community would like to know more about what is happening in Tibet and Xinjiang. Why is freedom of information in these regions different from in other regions of China? Are there ways to improve the situation?
Can you describe the situation of freedom of information and media freedom in China and explain why it is so different from the situation in western countries such as the United States and certain European countries, although China’s constitution supposedly guarantees these freedoms?
What do you think of freedom of expression and information in western countries, including the freedom enjoyed by Chinese journalists based abroad? Most references to the Arab springs have been withdrawn from the Chinese Internet. Are you going to allow your citizens to freely debate China’s political future and allow the media to contribute to this debate?
We are very worried about the fate of the dissident Gao Zhisheng. Is he still alive?
Aside from the human rights aspect, the censorship of certain foreign news websites also violates international trade regulations. What measures does the Chinese government plan to take to remedy this problem?
These are some of the questions being asked by journalists and ordinary citizens of all nationalities as well as by Reporters Without Borders,
We hope that you will understand the importance of establishing a dialogue on freedom of information in China and that you will respond positively to our request.
Olivier Basille, Reporters Without Borders secretary-general
- English: http://en.rsf.org/chine-questions-about-freedom-of-15-02-2012,41891.html
- 中文： http://www.rsf-chinese.org/spip.php?article645
Reporters Without Borders
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