| Backgrounder: Media Censorship in China

The 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing have drawn international attention to censorship in China. Watchdog groups say the preexisting monitoring system piles on new restrictions, and the government continues to detain and harass journalists. But the country’s burgeoning economy allows greater diversity in China’s media coverage, and experts say the growing Chinese demand for information is testing a regime that is trying to use media controls in its bid to maintain power.

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Co-authored by Carin Zissis and Preeti Bhattacharji | Musharraf Tightens Media Grip

Three Pakistani journalists (Reuters) recently left a press meeting in Karachi to find a dark message on their cars: an unaddressed envelope containing a single bullet. A week earlier two of the three journalists, who work for foreign media outlets, were included in a list of a dozen reporters considered “enemies” by a shady group called the Mohajir Rabita Council, which has links to the Karachi-based Muttahida Qaumi Movement allied with President Pervez Musharraf’s political coalition.

Read the full text. | Southerland: Chinese Bloggers Bypass Censors to Break Stories

Dan Southerland, executive editor at Radio Free Asia, discusses whether Chinese bloggers can push for more open media in China by getting around censors to break news. He cites a recent story, which made international headlines and was initially covered by bloggers, about a woman in southern China who resisted government siezure of her property. Southerland concedes that most of China's roughly 60 million bloggers write about personal matters and, when covering news, often fail to include essential details about where or when an event took place. However, he says, “If everybody suddenly decided that they would stop censoring themselves I think they could easily overwhelm the government” and could “get a little beyond the superficiality” of state-run media. Southerland also discusses “online muckrakers” who uncover stories about local government corruption and push news past monitors by praising the central government.

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When China won the bid to host the 2008 summer Olympics, it pledged to address environmental concerns, human rights grievances, and restrictive press laws. International Olympics Committee inspectors gave Beijing high marks when they held their first review (Reuters) of the city’s preparations in mid-January. 

Read the full text. | Esarey: China's New Media Laws An “Experiment”

Ashley W. Esarey, a China media expert and author of a Freedom House report on Chinese press censorship, discusses the new regulations giving foreign journalists press freedoms through the end of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. He calls the new laws an “experiment” by the Communist Party and says the press freedoms may become permanent unless they “lead Chinese journalists to call for more freedom themselves.”

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