Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Chinese Detain CNN Reporter

There is no doubt that we need to work with China on some economic issues considering the fact that they hold so much of our debt, but the president's visit to the country has also helped to illustrate some of the basic issues of freedom that must be addressed. While there are much harsher examples of how China has violated the basic human rights of its citizens, the freedom of press has become a frequent topic of discussion. A reporter for CNN being arrested for showing a T-shirt that the government didn't want publicized provides the world with a clear illustration of how the authorities in China severely limit what information the press can report on.
A CNN correspondent said Monday she was detained by Chinese security guards in Shanghai for two hours for displaying a T-shirt on camera depicting US President Barack Obama as Mao Zedong.

Emily Chang, a Beijing-based correspondent for the US television network, said in a blog post on CNN.com that she hunted down the shirt after hearing they had been banned amid fears they "may offend the American president."
In addition to detaining reporters who publicize things that the government doesn't approve of, there's also controversial Chinese firewall which bloggers have been talking about for years. In addition to preventing Chinese citizens from having access to a large portion of the information available on the internet, the Chinese government has even enlisted internet companies in their attempts to build criminal cases against bloggers who reveal information the government didn't want the public to know. The situation is getting so out of hand that Obama even brought the subject up during an appearance that he spoke with college students and participated in a Q & A. During the event the president reportedly told the crowd that the Internet furthers the public discussion, which result in empowering the people.
"I think that the more freely information flows, the stronger the society becomes, because then citizens of countries around the world can hold their own governments accountable," Mr Obama told students during his first trip to China. "They can begin to think for themselves."
Oddly enough, it appears as though the Chinese censored Obama's speech which essentially means that they were censoring a speech that criticized their censorship. In other words, the reaction of the Chinese government to the presidents speech was to give yet another example of how Obama's visit to China has helped to prove that the authorities in China severely limit the information that the public is able to receive.

In the end, I believe that this is one of the issues that the Obama Administration should be aggressively pursuing. While it might be a small issue compared to the other travesties going on in China, the freedom of the press would be a good first step in improving human rights. Furthermore, it would also create a situation in which the Chinese people can begin to stand up for their rights and let their voice be heard when they disagree with the government -- something that could be very health for their country and potentially the world.

I wish that there were a company to provide a surety bond to reporters. It would be great to have some insurance that what they are saying is the truth!!!

1 comment:

  1. Great post. At last someone point out the really important question of freedom of information. I agree that it can be the first step in improving human rights in China. But I think that Chinese government is very afraid of it because it could lead to situation similar in Iran when people through internet and blogs organized protests in the streets against manipulated elections. It's simply the fear of losing power.

    Best regards,
    Lorne

    ReplyDelete