China’s Cyber Censorship Figures March 1, 2012 – Updated on January 20, 2016 Authorities tighten grip, isolating Tibet even more from the outside world News News March 12, 2021 Find out more Democracies need “reciprocity mechanism” to combat propaganda by authoritarian regimes Social unrest a major worry for BeijingThe conditions in which foreign media workers try to function have been worsening elsewhere in the country since February last year. Journalists who try to report on the various protests around the country, particularly conflicts between residents and local authorities, have been the target of reprisals, which clearly bear the hallmark of local or central authorities. On 15 February in Panhe in the eastern province of Zhejiang, three journalists were assaulted while they were covering demonstrations against the seizure and sale of land by the government, similar to protests late last year in Wukan over the sale of land against local people’s wishes. Receive email alerts Foreign journalists suspected of wishing to defy police instructions are victims of harassment by the security forces.Some have complained of being followed, others that they have been escorted to the airport by the police, questioned for several hours, forced to wipe the pictures they have taken and have had their equipment seized.Identity checks are not confined to press cards and passports but include temporary residence permits, which journalists must carry with them at all times. These infringements create an atmosphere of constant surveillance which add to the stress levels and affect the psychological well-being of some media workers.On 2 February, some foreign correspondents working in China asked the authorities for free access to the provinces that were closed to them. In a statement issued by the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China, which is illegal and has no official status, they claimed the right to travel freely and to interview anyone prepared to be interviewed.Two days ago, the FCCC also urged journalists to take care and be alert in their work. The government is trying by any means it can to keep Tibet in a state of isolation from the media as the opening of the parliamentary session on 5 March approaches. The head of the Communist Party in Tibet, Chen Quanguo, has ordered local authorities to step up surveillance of all means of communication, particularly mobile phones and the Internet, in order to “maintain the public’s interests and national security”.The writer and blogger Tsering Woeser has been placed under virtual house arrest in Beijing for a month. She told the Associated Press news agency that state security agents had told her she would not be able to leave home today to collect the Prince Claus award at a ceremony at the Dutch embassy and that she would be under surveillance for the whole of March.The Prince Claus foundation bestowed the award on her in the “Breaking Taboos” category. The foundation hailed “her courage in daring to speak out in the name of all those who are reduced to silence or are oppressed, her remarkable work which unites literary skill with political reporting, gathering of information, analysis and campaigning on behalf of Tibetan culture”.———–Tibet cut off from the rest of the world 23 February 2012Reporters Without Borders is alarmed at the blackout imposed by Chinese authorities on the provinces of Sichuan and Qinghai, as well as the autonomous region of Tibet, preventing all media coverage of protest movements there.To this we must add disinformation activities such as the recent hacking of the French-language weekly Courrier International by Chinese propagandists.“At least 15 Tibetan monks have set themselves on fire since March last year, yet little information about this, or about the recent demonstrations in Tibet, has emerged,” Reporters Without Borders said.“Not only are foreign media organizations prevented from covering these events, but the authorities have also organized a veritable disinformation campaign, using pro-government media such as the Global Times, which play down the disturbances and accuse the international community of interfering.“Few media outlets are able to obtain first-hand information and fewer still manage to travel to the regions concerned.“Out of sight of the world, a major crisis is unfolding. Even Pyongyang has an international media presence, which is not the case in Lhasa.”The press freedom organization added: “As in the past, the Chinese authorities aim to control the Tibetan people behind closed doors, excluding journalists, foreign ones in particular, who might be troublesome witnesses of what is happening.“They are also trying to restrict all communication between the region and the rest of the world. The Internet is a secondary victim of the crackdown. Connections are cut off, access is blocked and content linked to the unrest is removed – any method can be used to prevent Chinese netizens taking over the baton from journalists and publishing news and information that might embarrass Beijing over its handling of the Tibetan unrest. “Local community networks are particularly targeted in order to nip in the bud any attempt at mobilising support online.” Crackdown in TibetMore than 20 police officers went to the home of Gagkye Drubpa Kyab, a journalist and teacher, in Serthar county in Sichuan province, on 15 February and arrested him. He remains in detention. The writer Kalsang Tsultrim, known by the pen name Gyitsang Takmig, was sentenced to four years’ imprisonment on 30 December 2011. He had been held without charge since 16 December 2010. He was previously arrested on 27 July 2010 for “political error” and was released on 15 October that year on condition that he did not participate in political activity.He had distributed a CD containing a personal video message urging the international community to take action and calling for the return of the Dalai Lama. He detailed the suffering of the Tibetan people and expressed concern about the disappearance of their religion and culture, as well as human rights abuses.Tsultrim had already received warning from the authorities about the message, recorded in June 2009.On 14 February, Reporters Without Borders also learned, from the Tibet Post International, of the sentencing in December 2010 of the writer Tsering Norbu for publishing and distributing a book about the 2008 demonstrations in Tibet. Police arrested him as he was distributing copies of his book in Lhasa, where is now in prison.Some journalists and writers choose to go into exile in order to be able to write about what is happening in their region. Such was the case of Gedun Tsering, who fled to the northern Indian city of Dharamsala where he published his book “Ghost Writer”. The work is in the form of a journal of his journey to India and his life as a refugee. Copies have been given to monasteries, schools and universities and Tibet’s four provinces.Online censorshipSince 24 January, Internet and cell phone networks have been severely disrupted within a radius of 50 km around Seda district in Sichuan province, which was the epicentre of the violent protests. Websites of Tibetan exile media organizations cannot be accessed. Discussion forums and blogs in the Tibetan language, such as Sangdhor.com and Rangdrol.net, have also been blocked since 3 February. On the same day the tag of Liu Zhiming (刘志明), an investigative journalist with the Economic Observer, who posted a message about a demonstration on 23 January, was removed from the micro-blogging site Sina Weibo. This is just one example among many of the removal of content referring to the current disturbances in Tibet. The strategy adopted by the Chinese authorities, namely cutting off certain provinces or regions from the media and online worlds in order to subdue them silently, is not new and has been applied elsewhere.Tibet has already been the target of particularly harsh restrictions on communications. In May 2011, the Internet was a secondary victim of a crackdown on demonstrations in Inner Mongolia. The region of Xinjiang was cut off from the outside world for several months after inter-ethnic riots in the regional capital Urumqi on 5 July 2009. Response to measures aimed at foreign journalistsForeign journalists, banned from entering Tibet, have been prevented by the police from covering demonstrations by Tibetans in other Chinese provinces. In the last week of January in Sichuan province, a crew from CNN was arrested at a toll barrier and prevented from travelling to neighbouring Tibet.Aware that such restrictions are unlawful, the authorities regularly cite bad weather or the poor state of the roads to restrict access to the autonomous region. Consequently, journalists are forced to resort to clandestine methods to get into the Tibetan-inhabited provinces. Jonathan Watts, a reporter for the Guardian, was among those who managed to elude the barriers and to reach the town of Aba (Ngaba in Tibetan). He and others have spoken of the heavy military presence in the region. The French journalist Baptiste Fallevoz, of the television station France 24, and his Chinese assistant Jack Zhang were on their way to the scene when their car was hit by another vehicle. They were then attacked by thugs in plain clothes. Zhang, whose camera was smashed, received a severe blow to the head. Both were put aboard a plane for Wenzhou. Police attributed the incident to village rivalries.On the same day, the Dutch freelance journalist Remko Tanis suffered a similar assault. Tanis, who worked for the Netherlands Press Association, was interviewing protesters when about 100 men burst into the building where he was and severely beat him and seized his memory cards and documents. The journalist said he was relatively unharmed but he feared for the safety of those he had interviewed. The FCCC also reported an assault on a video journalist who was attacked by security agents in plain clothes who hit him several times in the face while he was covering protests on Wangfujing shopping street in Beijing on 19 February. His equipment was seized.A dozen or so other journalists were harassed and roughed up during the crackdown.For their part, the Chinese authorities complain that they receive a bad press abroad, a criticism aimed expressly at foreign journalists who they say give prominent coverage to dissidents, demonstrations, popular discontent and pollution, rather than the country’s economic and cultural achievements.They accused 900 foreign reporters of covering events in the country in a negative fashion, based on a double standard and a “Cold War mentality”. To counter what they see as biased coverage of the country, the authorities have embarked on a campaign of disinformation. Courrier International, which translates and publishes excerpts of articles from international newspapers, was hacked by an official Chinese website, China Tibet Online, for propaganda purposes. It attributed an article translated from the Beijing newspaper Huanqiu Shibao to the Paris-based weekly.The article, headlined “French media: harmony, development mostly desired for Tibetans”, quoted a report from a remote area of Tibet purportedly published in Courrier International. The article in reality contained passages from Huanqiu Shibao, which is part of the People’s Daily group. It condemned secessionist aims of Tibetan exiles abroad and was never published by Courrier International.China fell six places in the 2011-2012 world press freedom index compiled by Reporters Without Borders, and now stands in 174th places of 178 countries. RSF_en News Rare footage of the demonstrations: June 2, 2021 Find out more Follow the news on China China: Political commentator sentenced to eight months in prison ChinaAsia – Pacific to go further April 27, 2021 Find out more Organisation News Help by sharing this information ChinaAsia – Pacific
The governing body of international soccer is on increasingly shaky turf.An ethics committee on Monday barred longtime FIFA President Joseph “Sepp” Blatter and Michel Platini, president of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), from the sport for eight years for ethics violations in connection with a $2 million payment that Blatter made to Platini in 2011.Blatter, who headed FIFA for nearly 18 years, insisted the money was for consulting work Platini did for him between 1999 and 2002. But the committee found “no legal basis” for the payout and ruled the pair guilty of a conflict of interest. Blatter was fined 50,000 Swiss francs (about $50,600); Platini was fined 80,000 Swiss francs.At a news conference, Blatter, 79, denied any wrongdoing. His adviser told reporters that Blatter would appeal the suspension. Platini, 60, once widely seen as a likely successor after Blatter retires in February, also intends to appeal.The sanctions are just the latest in a string of high-profile embarrassments for FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) that began last May when the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) indicted nine FIFA officials and five corporate executives associated with the organization on 47 counts including racketeering, wire fraud, and money laundering for their alleged roles in a 24-year corruption scheme. In September, Swiss authorities launched a criminal investigation into a sweetheart contract that Blatter signed and the $2 million payment to Platini. Earlier this month, U.S. officials indicted 16 more FIFA officials on charges of racketeering, conspiracy, and corruption, for a total of 41 people and entities charged thus far by the DOJ. Of those, 12 people and two companies have already been convicted.Matt Andrews is an associate professor of public policy at the Center for International Development at Harvard University. He also co-leads Sports Complexity and Governance Indicators, a collaborative research project with the International Centre for Sport Security that studies governance and economic factors that influence the development of sports industries around the world, particularly soccer, known outside the United States as football. Andrews spoke with the Gazette about FIFA’s ongoing troubles and what it will take to clean up the organization overseeing the world’s most popular sport.GAZETTE: How significant is it that football’s two top executives have been banned from the sport?ANDREWS: It’s obviously significant, but at the same time I don’t think it’s the end of the story. I have heard lots of people praising the decisions to ban these gentlemen by referring to the saying, “The fish rots from its head.” Physiologically, however, the saying is incorrect. The fish rots from the gut. Our argument is that is exactly the problem with football. The game itself is in trouble. Probably 60 percent of the national associations across the world are bankrupt, engaging in a patronage network in which one finds many other worrying challenges, including corruption and money laundering and human trafficking. Many players also earn wages below the poverty line in clubs across the globe. These are the bigger issues that require attention, beyond banning two personalities.As far as FIFA is concerned, there’s no way that Blatter and Platini could maintain their positions. There are too many problems and allegations for some not to be true or for the sport to be able to proceed without real action. But we should remember that Blatter got his position when his predecessor had the same kind of departure. The risk is that people pay too much attention to replacing these men, and they don’t pay enough attention to cleaning up the sport and making it viable in the future.GAZETTE: Were you surprised at the ethics committee’s ruling?ANDREWS: No. I think that both men seemed to have made mistakes in respect of the specific incidents for which they were charged. As soon as the committee actually made the charges, you knew that both of them were in trouble. The fact that the committee moved on this was a bigger issue because Blatter and Platini seemed to be quite bulletproof before the allegations were made. What I find interesting is that this transaction between the two men from years ago was revived for attention, which makes me think that somebody on the inside told somebody something to move these guys aside. It’s often the case with these big scandals.GAZETTE: Does banning Blatter and Platini significantly clean up FIFA? What reforms can or should be instituted to sanitize the game?ANDREWS: There is certainly an argument that if you get rid of people at the top — if that’s where the corruption is — then it helps you. But I think the corruption is throughout the organization, and indeed the sport. If you look at the list of people who are standing in the wings waiting to come up, these are all people who have long histories of working in and around FIFA, and there is no way they can be seen as immune from the mistakes of the past. It doesn’t really seem to me that it’s going to clean anything up by changing one or two personalities at the top.FIFA is essentially meant to be an association that represents other associations. But it has really become a big private-sector organization that makes $1.5 billion a year and does not pay taxes. There are some huge conflicts of interests that emerge in making this money. The time has come to separate the business side of the organization from the sports representation side. And it is time to have more transparent and formalized ways in which money is raised and contracts and events are awarded, and in which members determine how the money gets spent, so that it doesn’t get determined by a few individuals at the top. A whole lot more accountability and transparency is required.Football itself could also do with more transparency. Most of the regional confederations and over half of the 209 national associations don’t publish annual financial reports, for instance. There’s just a huge amount of opacity in the sport. I think that’s where they should begin to make improvements: Get the confederations to publish their financial statements, support players’ unions in holding these bodies accountable, and ensure we can all see what the money flows look like. This is anti-corruption 101.GAZETTE: FIFA’s been accused of having a culture of patronage for many years. Why only now has there been an effort to meaningfully confront it? Was having a relative outsider like the U.S. Department of Justice the necessary catalyst?ANDREWS: Absolutely. It may have been corrupt for a long time, but it’s only been making money for about a generation now. If you go back and have a look at our research, even in the 1980s, the 1990s, the World Cup wasn’t a huge moneymaker. The money in sports is new, within the last generation, so it’s taken people a bit of time to catch up to it and realize the problems that go with newfound wealth. I do think, though, that it took the U.S., it took the DOJ, to move on this. FIFA is based in Switzerland, and the Swiss are constrained in tackling these nonprofit organizations. Along with FIFA, they have the International Olympic Committee (IOC) — basically, every sporting body is sitting in Switzerland — and as soon as you start tackling issues in one or them, maybe you spook them all. FIFA also reserves the right to essentially ban countries and teams if they go against FIFA, so it’s going to be very interesting to see down the line what they do to the United States.On previous occasions when countries have taken steps against FIFA or against national associations to say, for instance, that they didn’t pay their taxes or manage transfers correctly, FIFA has banned their national teams from international competition and said that it’s a global football issue rather than a national legal issue. So I think you needed a country that’s not completely in love with football (and willing to risk FIFA’s ire). With the U.S., there’s enough objectivity in the country where people are willing to take that step. But we need to remember the U.S. did not press against Blatter and against Platini. The cases that have been brought by the Department of Justice have actually not had anything to do with soccer, per se. They’ve had to do with money laundering and corruption using the U.S. financial system. I honestly think you really did need the U.S. to go forward with those cases. It probably is the only country in the world that is in a position to take those kinds of steps right now. Because for all the other countries, losing soccer would be a huge issue for them, but I think it’s a risk that could be taken here.GAZETTE: Is there something endemic to major sporting bodies like FIFA, the IOC, or the NFL that encourages ethical lapses and/or corruption, or is it just because sports businesses are so rich and high-profile that we hear more often about these incidents?ANDREWS: I think it’s a bit of both. I like to think of sports as a part of the entertainment sector. There is something about this kind of sector that is scandalous, and people love to read about scandal. But there’s also something about the industry being a little bit above the law. As with the entertainment industry, there is a lot going on that makes it vulnerable to wrongdoing as well. The money flows in in many different ways; you have a lot of people who are trying to make a quick buck; their careers are very short; there’s huge amounts of people around these players and these officials trying to make money; and I think there’s a bit of a culture of impunity that you find. It definitely is part of sport, unfortunately. And that’s what we’re looking at and trying to understand in our work — the culture behind this kind of sector.GAZETTE: What role or responsibilities do local and national governments, clubs, and other organizations have in managing sports industries?ANDREWS: It’s a very interesting question. Local and national governments have given football clubs and bodies a free ride for a long time. The clubs are part of their communities, and sometimes one feels that governments turn a blind eye to their behavior because of this. If you were just to apply some of the labor laws to football, for instance, you would find real cause for change; if you were to apply some of the common laws about financial transparency and financial reporting and tax compliance, you would also find clubs and organizations in trouble. Two of the biggest clubs in the world are Barcelona and Real Madrid. Both of those clubs are tax-exempt organizations just like FIFA. It’s quite incredible. They both have enjoyed significant support from governments, and both get to pay tens of millions for players, but they do not pay taxes even while Spain’s governments struggle under financial austerity.One of the challenges for national and local governments is to treat these clubs more like other businesses, which means being selective as to when you support them, and making sure that when you support them, that they are generating the kind of social and economic value that you expect. I have no problem with local governments or national governments subsidizing a football club in the same way that they might subsidize a business that employs people. But when you are subsidizing them and then they are not paying taxes and they are not necessarily putting the money back into your community, I think that’s a big problem. Some of the laws we use to regulate the economy generally should be used more aggressively to regulate the organizations in this sector. Regulate them as if they are private organizations, including FIFA.Beyond FIFA, however, one needs to ask tough questions about the future of football. There are 4,000 to 6,000 professional clubs globally. It’s very questionable as to whether the economics of football will allow them all to survive. Perhaps we will see some elite leagues dominating everyone else in the future, and most clubs reverting to amateur status as they were a generation ago. I think this is the way football is going, and it poses big questions for governments, clubs, and leagues. Until these questions are answered, I fear the unstructured nature of global football will continue to create opportunities for people to do things that we really don’t want them to be doing, kind of like the Wild West was before it was tamed.This interview was lightly edited for clarity and length.