April 21, 2024

Press Freedom


China July 26, 2005

H.E. Hu Jintao
Office of the President
Beijing 100017
People’s Republic of China

Your Excellency: 

Members of the Overseas Press Club of America (OPC) read with interest your remarks at the G8 summit in Gleneagles , Scotland , calling for more international cooperation in world development. We believe effective international cooperation requires partners who are committed to ensuring basic freedoms and equalities to their citizens — including public access to information and freedom of the media

It is hard for OPC members, who have worked for more than 65 years to defend press freedom throughout the world, to believe that your country is truly committed to making what you described as “concerted efforts to maintain steady world economic growth” when we learn of continual actions to limit freedom of speech in China.

Most recently, we were surprised to hear that a new regulation drafted by China ‘s State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) bans radio and TV companies from renting their channels to foreign companies, co-operating with them on joint projects, or launching joint-venture radio and TV programs or live broadcasts. This new regulation goes much further than the limits instituted in March of this year…which restricted foreign media groups to no more than one contract with a Chinese media company.

In your remarks on March 16, 2005, at the 2005 Fortune Global Forum, Your Excellency said that China “must adhere to our basic policy of opening to the outside world, building a more open marketplace and allowing the country to participate more broadly in international economic and technological cooperation and competition with still wider and higher dimensions.” And yet, on July 13, not four months later, SARFT has shut the door on international cooperation with media companies.

In addition, your government has set in place policies designed to limit free expression on the Internet by China ‘s citizens. In June, the government announced plans to shut down all China-based Web sites and blogs that were not officially registered. According to Reporters Without Borders (RWB), “Those who continue to publish under their real names on sites hosted in China will either have to avoid political subjects or just relay the Communist Party’s propaganda. This decision will enable those in power to control on-line news and information much more effectively.”

RWB reported that one China-based blogger was told by the appropriate ministry that there was no point in his attempting to register his blog because “there was no chance of an independent blog getting permission to publish.”

As we have often written to you, we are appalled that China continues to be the world’s leading jailer of journalists. Currently, of the 102 journalists in jail around the world, as listed by RWB, 32 are known to be imprisoned in your country. We strongly support the unprecedented campaign currently being waged by more than two thousand Chinese journalists to obtain the release of Yu Huafeng and Li Minying , managers of the liberal daily , Nanfang Dushi Bao , who have been unfairly imprisoned for more than a year on false accusations of embezzlement.

A similar campaign on an international basis is underway to obtain the release of Ching Cheong , a widely respected journalist with the Singapore daily, Straits Times , who was arrested on April 22, 2005 and accused of spying. Among the 29 other cases:

The charges against freelance journalist and cyber-dissident, Zhang Lin , allege that the articles he wrote criticizing your government “opposed the basic principles of the Constitution; damaged national unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity; spread falsehoods; disturbed the social order and damaged social stability.” Zhang is facing life imprisonment for these “offenses,” following his five-hour trial on June 21. A verdict is expected soon. Zhang, a well-known dissident, has spent eight of the last sixteen years in prison and labor camps.

The Hunan Supreme People’s Court recently upheld the conviction of journalist, Shi Tao , on charges of “illegally leaking state secrets abroad.” Shi was convicted on April 27, 2005 and sentenced to ten years in prison. His only crime was that he had e-mailed his notes on certain Propaganda Bureau instructions to the editor of the New York-based, Minzhu Luntun (Democracy Forum), dissident news Web site and Minzhu Tongxun (Democracy Communication), an e-mail-based information network. The instructions concerned the return of overseas dissidents to China to mark the 15 th anniversary of the military crack-down on pro-democracy demonstrators in Tiananmen Square .

Your Excellency, in your Fortune Global Forum speech, you spoke of China ‘s goals for the first twenty years of the current century and you included in those goals “improve democracy.” Surely, a basic principle of any democratic nation is a commitment to free and independent media. We urge you to take effective steps to reverse your government’s current policies and to establish true freedom of the press in China . Keeping your citizens well-informed about events and issues important to them is a significant step toward your goal of improving democracy.

Respectfully yours,
Larry Martz
Norman A. Schorr
Co-chairmen, Freedom of the Press Committee




Wen Jiabao

State Council

Office of the Premier


Beijing 100077

People’s Republic of China

Fax: ( 512-5810


Ambassador Guangya Wang   Greg Torode

Permanent Representative   News Editor

Permanent Mission of the PROC to the United Nations   South China Morning Post

350 East 35 Street   greg.torode@scmp.com

New York , NY 10016

Fax: (212) 634-7626


Yang Jiechi   News Editor

Ambassador of PROC to the USA   China Daily

Embassy of the People’s Republic of China   newseditor@chinadaily.com.cn

2300 Connecticut Avenue, NW   Fax: (011.86.10) 493-4756

Washington , DC 20008

Fax: (202) 328-2582


Clark Randt, Jr.   Bertha Henson

U.S. Ambassador to China   News Editor

Embassy of the United States of America   Straits Times

No.3 Xiu Shui Bei Jie   Fax: (011.65.6) 732-0131 or

Beijing 100600   ( 732-0131


Fax: ( 532-6929