In response to the Reporter Without Borders’ (RSF) 2020 World Press Freedom Index, published on April 21st and that again ranks China 177th out of 180, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang reportedly insisted in a press briefing that the regime “welcomes foreign media and journalists” and accused RSF of spreading “fake news” as a result of “prejudice” against his country.
China, far from welcoming foreign correspondents, instead consistently practices intimidation, harassment, and surveillance against them and their sources, as highlighted by numerous reports published by RSF as well as other NGOs. Last month, the Beijing regime expelled 13 journalists working for The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal while at the same time orchestrating a global disinformation campaign designed to drown out critics who blame its censorship for the spread of the coronavirus.
“The only prejudice that Beijing can attribute to RSF, an international organization defending journalism, is to consider that trampling on press freedom is in no case legitimate,” said Cédric Alviani, RSF East Asia bureau head, who urged the Beijing regime to “respect Article 35 of its own constitution, which, although it has unfortunately never been enforced, guarantees freedom of the press.”
In recent years, President Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party have tightened control of China’s state and privately-owned media, increased surveillance of social media, and have actively exported their oppressive model as shown in a RSF report published last year.
RSF is an international non-governmental, non-profit organization defending journalism and freedom of information. Every year since 2002, the organization has published the RSF World Press Freedom Index, a data-driven ranking that is frequently quoted by governments, media, and NGOs worldwide.
In 2020, China is still the world’s biggest jailer of journalists with more than 109 of them behind bars.