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Chinese Government Tightens Noose of Censorship on CSO

Pat Robert  Larubi - 11/08/2014 11:29 CDT

Beijing, Beijing, China

Xi Jinping "knows that reforms must be made to keep the party in power,” says Maya Wang, a researcher with Human Rights Watch in China. “But he does not want them to be diverted, or seen as the result of the demands of civil society."Beijing, China - August 11, 2014 - Chinese censorship knows no limits. On Wednesday, July 8, the Press Authority of the Communist Party announced that President Xi Jinping has adopted new regulations banning reporters, already forbidden from discussing "sensitive" subjects, from disclosing "state secrets, commercial secrets and non-official information" and are "banned from writing articles expressing criticism, unless they have been approved by the work unit concerned."

This new blow to civil liberties in mainland China is the result of the attempted intimidation by the Party against Apple Daily, one of the major newspapers in Hong Kong. Beijing has not appreciated the support given by the newspaper to Occupy Central, the pro-democracy movement born in 2011, which has demanded an election by universal suffrage of the chief executive of the administrative region of Hong Kong in 2017.

The new regulations do not apply, however, to the former British colony, where the freedom of opinion, the press and publication are protected by Article 27 of the Basic Law and Article 16 of the Declaration of human rights in Hong Kong.

The intense increase in the Chinese government repression of communication and freedom of expression for the past several months has inspired bloggers, journalists, lawyers and activists in China to exercise caution and discretion. According to Joseph Cheng, an expert on Chinese politics at the City University of Hong Kong, "the dispute and the development of civil society are in general no longer tolerated."

The latest example of repression was the arrest in July in mainland China of seven militants accused of "causing agitation" by organizing a ceremony for the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen crackdown. Joseph Cheng believes that these government measures have been effective. The psychological impact on people is felt in the forced silence of the Chinese media and social networks.

The ruling Communist Party has always exercised strict control over Chinese society. But observers have reported a new crackdown under Xi Jinping, at the head of the party since 2012 and the state since the beginning of 2013, which has strengthened central government while announcing an agenda of ambitious economic reforms.