China: Political commentator sentenced to eight months in prison

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls on the Chinese regime to release Qiu Ziming, a Chinese political commentator who was sentenced on 31st May to eight months in prison for questioning the regime’s transparency regarding a border clash between Indian and Chinese soldiers.

Qiu Ziming, a political commentator and former reporter, was sentenced on the 31st of May 2021 to eight months in prison by the Nanjing Jianye People’s Court on the charge of “defaming heroes and martyrs” for questioning the Chinese regime's transparency on the circumstances of a violent border clash between Chinese and Indian soldiers in June 2020. Qiu was also ordered by the court to make a public apology on major media outlets and online platforms in China.

"By questioning the government’s narrative, Qiu Ziming only performed his duty as a journalist and should never have been arrested, let alone sentenced to a prison term”, said Cédric Alviani, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) East Asia bureau head, who calls for Qiu’s “immediate release alongside all other detained journalists and press freedom defenders.”

Qiu, 38, a former journalist with weekly newspaper Economic Observer who counts more than 2.5 million followers on the Chinese microblogging website Sina Weibo, is the first person to be sentenced for defaming "heroes and martyrs”, a new provision added to China's Criminal Law in March 2021, which prohibits questioning of the regime’s official historical narrative. 

China ranked 177th out of 180 in the 2021 RSF World Press Freedom Index and is the world’s largest captor of journalists with at least 115 detained, often in life-threatening conditions.

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Updated on 02.06.2021