The Chinese government, in its effort to maintain political and social control, imposes severe limitations on access to information, as well as the right to freedoms of expression and of association. It devotes significant resources to censorship and control of the media, the Internet, non-governmental organizations, and political and religious expression.
Based upon detailed research and analysis, The Fog of Censorship: Media Control in China describes how media control in China is carried out through an elaborate architecture of pervasive Party supervision, a broad and vague state secrets system, stringent publishing and licensing mechanisms, control over key personnel, and the concentration of press groups under a handful of media organizations operating directly under the Party. He Qinglian also describes how new technologies, provided in part by Western companies, have strengthened Internet surveillance and censorship.
By He Qinglian
The Chinese government’s United Front Campaign has been so effective that some foreign individuals and organizations are willing to turn a blind eye to human rights abuses in China and sing the government’s praises in order to further their own interests. I do not wish to dwell on those who bow to the regime, because their kind has existed throughout human history. Yet even in the darkest eras, there have always been people willing to put aside personal interests for the sake of justice and humanity.
Afewinternational human rights organizations have campaigned tirelessly for human rightsinChina,particularlyAmnesty International,HumanRightsWatch, the Committee to Protect Journalists, Reporters Without Borders, and Human Rights in China. The factual information these nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) collect and disseminate under extremely difficult circumstancesis a powerful antidote to the disinformation spread by the foreign admirers of the Chinese government.To cite just one example: Freedom in theWorld 2004: TheAnnual Survey of Political Rights and Civil Liberties (2004 Edition), a report published by the U.S.-based NGO Freedom House, ranked Taiwan the “most free” among Asian countries, fractionally behind Japan. Mainland China was ranked among Asia’s “leastfree,”only slightly betterthan NorthKorea and SaudiArabia.Itis also thanks to the unceasing efforts of these human rights organizations that the treatment of China’s prisoners of conscience has improved since the days of Mao Zedong.
I must also express my admiration for the men and women within China who have never compromised with the regime. Coming from China, I know all too well the price paid by those who refuse to compromise, including being isolated by intellectuals who fear associating with “heretics.” This book names and pays homage to many Chinese journalists who have been imprisoned for their efforts to expose corruption. These men and women of conscience are like a lamp with an ever-burning flame. Others have devoted themselves passionately to furthering freedom of speech, some even paying with their lives. Liu HRIC-Media-i-xxii.qxd:HRIC book 7/10/08 4:47 PM Page xi
Chengjun, a Falun Gong practitioner, was one of them. On March 5, 2002, Liu and some friends managed to intercept eight cable television networks in Changchun City and Songyuan City,Jilin Province, and televised a program entitled “Self-Immolation or a Staged Act?” exposing the Chinese government’s cover-up of its persecution of Falun Gong and the staged immolation the government claimed was the action of practitioners. Liu was arrested and subjected to 21 months of torture that led directly to his death. He paid with his life, but thanks to his sacrifice, many people learned the truth about the government’s persecution of Falun Gong.
China’s hope lies with the brave men and women who continue to struggle for freedom. This book gives an account of the sacrifices made by heroes in the cause of freedom of the press. Their efforts are changing China little by little. I have learned from a number of World War II documentaries that the Nazi persecution of Jews was welcomed in many European countries because it served the short-term interests of certain governments that collaborated shamefully with Nazi rule.It is my fervent hope that ever fewer foreign companies, organizations, and individuals willsacrifice principle for expediency in regard to China, because the Chinese people desperately need the international support of those who champion democracy and justice.
A China grounded on a solid foundation of constitutional democracy and integrity in government and politics would make a far more positive contribution to world civilization than today’s China,ruled by a corrupt dictatorship that regards ordinary citizens as worthless, pursues an unprincipled foreign policy, and cares only about its own political interests.
I hope that this book will help lift the veil covering China. Only those who understand the real China can effectively assist the Chinese people in building a free and democratic nation.
I would like to especially express my gratitude to Human Rights in China, the NGO that commissioned, supported, and published my research project on media control in China. The first report I wrote was published in Chinese by HRIC in November 2004.Working on this project, in addition to reading numerous articles and other materials, helped to sort out my own experiences during the many years I worked as a journalist in China, in combination with many articles and other materials I read. For the deeper understanding I gained of the principle of freedom of the press and the history of media control in China, I express my heartfelt thanks to Human Rights in China.