A report titled “”, published by Reporters Without Borders, has revealed that China is “the world's biggest captor of journalists” with at least 127 reporters presently in detention, today.
RSF is a France-based organisation advocating for worldwide press freedom.
Published on December 7, 2021, the 82-page document “the acceleration of China’s violations against its own international commitments to freedom of opinion and expression”, and reveals “the unprecedented campaign of repression led by the Chinese regime in recent years against journalism and the right to information worldwide”.
According to RSF, the report specifically examines the “regime's tools of repression against journalists and the deterioration of press freedom in Hong Kong”. The report stated that China has “justified” the arrests of reporters and citizen journalists by accusing them of provoking trouble.
Christophe Deloire, the RSF secretary general, said if China continues “its frantic race backwards”, its citizens “may lose hope to one day see press freedom established in their country, and the Beijing regime may succeed in imposing its anti-model domestically and abroad”.
Noting that press restrictions had worsened with the pandemic, the report found at least 10 journalists and online commentators have been detained for reporting about the covid crisis in Wuhan. It also said that China had intimidated foreign journalists, with 18 leaving the country in 2020.
According to BBC, three foreign journalists of Chinese descent – Gui Minhai, Yang Hengjun and Cheng Lei – are currently in detention on espionage charges. Seventy-one Uyghur journalists are currently detained, comprising more than half of the journalists imprisoned in China, the report said.
Criticising the “vague” National Security Law, imposed last year in Hong Kong by China, the report said that it has since served as “a pretext for the repression of at least 12 journalists and press freedom defenders”.
Importantly, in the 2021 World Press Freedom Index, RSF ranked China 177th out of 180, only two places above North Korea. India ranked 142nd.