Monitoring press freedom and international affairs from Mid-Missouri Public Radio and the Missouri School of Journalism

China blocks news of Tiananmen anniversary

Tens of thousands gathered at candlelit vigil in Hong Kong June 4 in remembrance of the 25th anniversary of China’s crackdown on protesters in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. Meanwhile, on the Chinese mainland police in Beijing prevented journalists and activists from commemorating the anniversary.

"This time 25 years ago today you could not enter Tiananmen Square as a journalist. And 25 years on you still can't," Adrian Brown reported for Al Jazeera from Beijing.

The Spanish news agency Efe reported that officials cited Chinese legislation that banned accredited international and local journalists from entering the square, speaking with visitors, taking photographs and shooting video.

Journalists faced harassment and intimidation ahead of the anniversary. Chinese public security officers reportedly summoned journalists to view video-taped lectures designed to dissuade them from reporting on the anniversary, according to the Guardian. French journalists had been detained for several hours for showing photograph from the 1989 massacre to the people in the streets and attempting to interview citizens. The Chinese authorities repeated that this is a “very sensitive” issue and is related to Chinese culture, the London-based newspaper said.

According to human right groups, authorities arrested about 50 people in the days leading up to the Tiananmen massacre anniversary.

The Committee to Protect Journalists reported the detention of journalist Xin Jian on May 13. The Japanese financial newspaper Nihon Keizai Shimbun (NIKKEI) said that Xin helped to conduct an interview with the prominent human rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang, who was a student leader during the 1989 protest. The journalist was accused of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble.”

Chinese authorities interfered with Internet access as well. Google services such as Gmail and Picasa were largely blocked, and social media sites were censored. GreatFire, an NGO specializing in monitoring online censorship in China, said that access to Google has been 90 percent blocked. Searches for words or expressions that relate to the massacre were blocked. Censors “cleaned” social media, such as LinkedIn or Weibo, from inappropriate posts as well.

China’s government has never provided information about the death toll at Tiananmen. The number of casualties is still unknown, although it is thought to be in the thousands.


Monitoring press freedom and international affairs from Mid-Missouri Public Radio and the Missouri School of Journalism.
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