News / Asia

Tiananmen Crackdown Casts Long Shadow Over China’s Press

Tiananmen Crackdown Casts Long Shadow Over China’s Pressi
X
Rebecca Valli
May 29, 2014 2:36 PM
It has been 25 years since the Tiananmen crackdown. And while the memory of the government's bloody crackdown on protesters is alive in the minds of many, the anniversary is likely to go unnoticed in Chinese media. The media blackout is a strong reminder of how many years after the events of the spring of 1989, China's leaders have yet to respond to one of the protesters' key demands - the call for press freedom. Rebecca Valli reports from Hong Kong for VOA.
It has been 25 years since the Tiananmen massacre. And while the memory of the government's bloody crack down on protesters is alive in the minds of many, the anniversary is likely to go unnoticed in Chinese media. The media blackout is a strong reminder of how, 25 years after the events of the spring of 1989, China's leaders have yet to respond to one of the protesters' key demands - the call for press freedom.
 
During the 1989 protests, when journalists joined the students in the streets, one of the slogans they displayed on banners was: “Don't force us to tell lies!”
 
A spontaneous gathering to commemorate the death of Hu Yaobang, a reformist leader, evolved into a broader call for political participation and freedom of expression.
 
Leaders split
 
As sit-ins around Tiananmen Square continued for weeks, some publications that were supported by reform-minded leaders covered the events with significant independence.
 
Hong Kong based journalist Liu Ruishao was reporting on the students’ movement from Beijing for a Hong Kong newspaper. He said that the leadership itself had planted the seed for more accurate news reporting at a Party congress in 1987.
 
“Leaders had made statements saying that people should be informed and discuss about important events. The environment was more open, and people in the media circles were very active,” said Liu.
 
That relatively free media environment began to be curbed when Beijing imposed martial law on May 20. Then, the violent crackdown on protesters on June 4 showed that the hard line within the Communist party had prevailed.
 
Aftermath for the media
 
Leaders who had spoken in favor of media reform were marginalized, and a draft law intended to make media more open was shelved.
 
China’s leaders then used state-controlled media to amplify their message denouncing the democratic movement. Many journalists who had sided with the students were jailed or suspended.
 
Chang Ping, a well-known journalist ostracized in China for his bold editorials on sensitive issues, said that by 1989 the leadership decided that media freedom was a liability.
 
“The Communist party came to a conclusion after Tiananmen," he said. "Not having properly controlled the media was a huge lesson for them, the lesson came from the events in Tiananmen, from the Soviet Union collapse and the changes in Eastern Europe. So," he said, "after Tiananmen they realized that controlling the media was a top priority.”
 
China is online
 
Twenty-five years later, China is now the world's biggest market for newspapers and internet users, both of which are closely regulated by authorities.
 
Despite the constant policing of content deemed sensitive, the Internet remains a major force for spreading information and exchanging ideas. Internet users routinely use the medium to discuss sensitive political ideas, shame officials accused of corruption or post videos of lawbreakers.
 
Fine line for journalists
 
While some of the work of journalists and citizen bloggers leads to party and police investigations, reporters still face big risks when using the internet to distribute their findings or comment on sensitive topics.
 
Authorities recently charged journalist Gao Yu with divulging state secrets after she shared the contents of an internal party policy paper with foreign media organizations.
 
Ching Cheong, a senior Hong Kong journalist, faced the same charge in 2005 and was imprisoned for almost three years.
 
He said there used to be hope among intellectuals and the public that the internet would be a catalyst for freedom, but such optimism has since faded.
 
“Clearly this is not going to happen, because Chinese president Xi Jinping has just ordered the set up of a national commission to monitor cyber security and he also mentioned last year in his August 19 speech that the internet has become a source of threat to national security,” said Ching.
 
Journalists still pushing back
 
After that speech, authorities launched a campaign to punish rumor mongering online, criminally charging bloggers for posting content deemed sensitive.
 
Journalists are still defying state censorship. Despite years of censorship, Hong Kong journalist Liu Ruishao said, the public still clamors for unfiltered information and open debate.
 
“The policies on media freedom have not changed in the past 25 years," he said. "But what has changed are the increasing aspirations for media freedom from common people, staff in the media industry, intellectuals and students. Common people and journalists are not leaving propaganda officials with the monopoly on news.”
 
Journalism chilled despite profusion of media
 
Still, this year's Tiananmen anniversary is likely to go unnoticed on Chinese media.
 
While in the last decades journalists have gained more leeway to cover social and political events, June 4 is still a taboo topic. Authorities already have warned foreign journalists against reporting from Tiananmen Square.

You May Like

Photogallery Pistorius Sentenced, Taken to Prison

Pistorius, convicted of culpable homicide in shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, will likely serve about 10 months of five-year sentence, before completing it under house arrest More

UN to Aid Central Africa in Polio Vaccinations

Synchronized vaccinations will be conducted after Cameroon reports a fifth case of the wild polio virus in its territory More

WHO: Ebola Vaccine May Be in Use by Jan.

WHO assistant director Dr. Marie Paule Kieny says clinical trials of Ebola vaccines are underway or planned in Europe, US and Africa More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: jonathan huang from: canada
May 29, 2014 1:39 PM
I know everyone stood in front of an Americans tank was died. Only PLA soldiers care about innocent ppl and try to go around him. American police can shoot an unarmed ppl 90 rounds to kill him. there is a clearly difference between china and America! I am so glad china is getting better and better. ppl is getting richer, society is more open. good job the communist party!

In Response

by: feng from: luo
May 29, 2014 9:59 PM
are u kidding me?


by: Won Free Man from: US
May 29, 2014 9:48 AM
To this day, the identity of the man stands in front of tanks on the Avenue of Eternal Peace, June 5, 1989 is still not known except for his name which is: Won Brave Man.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid