China’s crackdown on online media has gone too far and has been largely ineffective, a human rights group has warned.
The International Campaign for Media Freedoms said last week it had received hundreds of complaints about censorship and suppression of news coverage by Chinese authorities.
The group said it is concerned that Beijing has turned a blind eye to human rights violations and has not done enough to stop the crackdown.
China’s state-run media has been accused of manipulating news stories to advance the ruling Communist Party’s ideological agenda and in the process, to further suppress political opposition.
The group said the crackdown has been accompanied by “severe restrictions on access to social media” and that the state is “preventing access to critical information about political and social injustice.”
“China’s government should ensure that freedom of expression and press is protected at all times,” said the group’s executive director, Daniel Pearl, who added that China’s censorship system is in place “to maintain the Communist Party line and maintain the CCP’s monopoly on power.”
The campaign said China’s government has also been trying to limit the flow of information about human rights abuses to foreign audiences through restrictions on foreign travel and media, including a ban on foreign media from covering protests and protests involving members of the Communist party.
“The Chinese authorities have been trying their best to limit access to news about the human rights situation in China to foreign outlets,” Pearl said.
“China has an international reputation as a repressive and repressive society.
Its press censorship and restrictions are being applied to protect its own image and interests.
We see no need to look beyond China’s borders to gauge the Chinese government’s compliance with international standards.”
As part of its crackdown, China also recently announced new laws to crack down on “foreign propaganda,” a term used to describe any criticism of China’s actions, including by Chinese media.
While Chinese authorities continue to restrict freedom of speech, the campaign said that the country’s efforts to control social media should be commended.
“China should take steps to encourage Chinese social media users to report illegal content and engage in meaningful dialogue with their users, as it has done for years,” Pearl told The Globe and Mail.
Pearl said he hoped the Chinese authorities would be more transparent in their reporting and respond to complaints from the public.
Follow Chris Danforth on Twitter: @DanforthCS