Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 January 2018, 13:56 GMT

Attacks on the Press in 2013 - China

Publisher Committee to Protect Journalists
Publication Date March 2014
Cite as Committee to Protect Journalists, Attacks on the Press in 2013 - China, March 2014, available at: [accessed 16 January 2018]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Key Developments

  • Crackdown on bloggers and social media users follows presidential transition.

  • Foreign correspondents report deteriorating work conditions.

Despite expectations for greater transparency after President Xi Jinping took office in March, Beijing continued to try to suppress information on a broad range of issues. A CPJ report in March found that the government struggled to cope with ever more pervasive digital platforms that Chinese citizens used to express themselves. In September, authorities once again tightened social media controls. Under the new rules, people who posted comments deemed libelous and that were reposted 500 or more times faced defamation charges and up to three years in prison. Subsequently, hundreds of social media users including some journalists were arrested although most were released by the end of 2013. China ranked third on CPJ's annual census of journalists imprisoned around the world, behind only Turkey and Iran. Shi Tao, a Chinese journalist who was given a 10-year prison sentence in 2005, the first high-profile conviction for online activity, was released from prison in August, 15 months before the end of his term. CPJ research has shown that most jailed journalists serve their full sentences. A survey by the Foreign Correspondents' Club of China said reporting conditions had worsened over the past year, as the Chinese government "increasingly resorted to threats and intimidation against foreign media."

[Refworld note: The sections that follow represent a best effort to transcribe onto a single page information that appears in tabs on the CPJ's own pages, which also include a number of dynamically-generated graphics not readily reproducible here. Refworld researchers are therefore strongly recommended to check against the original report: Attacks on the Press in 2013.]

Journalists in prison: 32

CPJ documented at least 32 reporters, editors, and bloggers behind bars in China when it conducted its annual census on December 1.

Authorities detained scores of people during the year in a campaign to banish online commentary that, among other issues, cast the government in a critical light, according to Chinese news outlets and human rights groups. Though many of the detainees were released, some were still held on criminal accusations in late 2013.

Detainees are minorities: 50%

As a result of the Chinese government's attempt to suppress ethnic unrest, at least 50 percent of the journalists behind bars in late 2013 were ethnic minorities.

Of the 32 journalists jailed when CPJ conducted its annual prison census, nine were Tibetan and seven were Uighur. The rest were Han Chinese.

Breakdown of jailed Tibetans:

  • 6 Worked in print
  • 2 Worked online
  • 1 Worked in film

Internet penetration rate: 42%

Internet penetration in China has gradually increased over the years, despite authorities' attempt to crack down on online commentary.

Report worsening conditions: 70%

The Foreign Correspondents' Club of China published a report in May that found that 70 percent of international correspondents surveyed said working conditions had stayed the same or worsened in China, compared with 2012.

The correspondents' club found that Chinese authorities had increasingly "resorted to threats and intimidation against foreign media."

The correspondents' complaints:

  • Government retaliation against foreign media that have incurred official displeasure

  • Threats to the physical safety of reporters whose reports have offended authorities

  • Increased cyber harassment and hacking attacks on foreign journalists

  • Continuing restrictions on journalists' movements in Tibetan-inhabited areas of China

  • Official harassment of sources

  • Official intimidation of reporters' Chinese assistants

Copyright notice: © Committee to Protect Journalists. All rights reserved. Articles may be reproduced only with permission from CPJ.

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