Monday, March 29, 2010

Problems? What Problems?

Reporters in China have one of the most dangerous occupations in the country since getting on the wrong side with censors can effectively end your media career.

They have to attend regular "training sessions" which are effectively Marxism lectures stressing how news organizations must prioritize their work in terms of the Party first, the people second.

With that in mind, the government, or rather the Publicity Bureau, better known as the Propaganda Department effectively controls the media in terms of what they can and cannot write. The rumour goes that only phone calls are made to avoid leaving a paper trace, but apparently Liu Shunyan, director of the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China recently faxed a list of topics banned from coverage to all major newspapers, television and radio stations, and news websites.

They are:

Yuan revaluation
Corruption and problems in Xinjiang
Corruption and problems in Tibet
Deaths of four children and sickened more than 70 others in Shanxi from hepatitis B vaccines
The difficulties faced by students in finding jobs after graduation
Food safety
The rising price of cooking oil
US criticism of China
High medical fees
Disparity of wealth
Reform of the registration or hukou system
Forecasts of appointments for Communist Party leaders
Expansion of autonomy at universities
The collapse of school buildings in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake and delays in reconstruction
The beating death of a steel plant president in Jilin Province
Collusion between police and gangsters in Chongqing
The rising real estate prices and housing shortage
Real estate developers trying to increase land prices

An official at a Chinese newspaper said, "Most of the subjects that people are interested in have been banned. We don't know what to report on."

Really, the topics mentioned above are the ones that the public wants answers to and now the media can't even try to help people find the truth.

With media bans like this one which is considered to be even more extensive than before the 2008 Olympics, combined with Google's ongoing joust with the government, foreign companies frustrated at the lack of progress in penetrating the Chinese market, and people wanting to have the domain name .cn must register in person, has only made things worse for everyone all round.

By further controlling the Internet in China, it will eventually become shut off from the rest of the world and the country will have one big intranet.

The media bans and further Internet controls are just making it harder for people to find the truth in China; but it makes those more determined even more so, who hopefully will be a more powerful force demanding to know what is really going on.

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