Increased Freedom of the Press or False Hope?

Despite China Daily’s often derided image as being nothing more than overly positive government mouthpiece, it still remains the most accessible English language newspaper in China. It is the government’s English mouthpiece, but it is a great way to find out what is happening in China even though they tend to leave out the bad stuff. A recent China Daily article announced a new law has gone into effect in Kunming, capital of China’s Yunnan province, which will “punish any person or organization obstructing the work of the media or reporters in telling the news.” The new law says that the media play a role in supervising public institutions, state enterprises and official departments. The law lays out the roles for both sides: journalists are required to report only factual truths and, on the other side, organizations and individuals are not allowed to refuse interviews, damage media equipment, or threaten the safety of journalists. Punishments for breaking this law have not been announced, leaving some to criticize that this new regulation is not specific enough. Chen Changcheng, who is a journalist for China Enterprise News, hopes that this law will be enacted nationwide and is enforeced. Chen says it is a positive step towards increased freedom of the press. “We as journalists have no legal protection for our right to interview and know. If the regulation of Kunming will be put into practice, the local democracy and news freedom will be promoted,” he said. Quick to rain on Chen’s parade, Zhang Kai, who is a lawyer in Beijing, thinks that a city level regulation will carry little weight. “If a provincial department or official is involved, I’m afraid it is not that useful,” he said. Source: China Daily

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