Chinese state news agency says Charlie Hebdo attack shows 'press freedom has its limits'

The Charlie Hebdo attack has been met with calls to protect press freedom from most news organisations, but China’s Xinhua news agency has argued instead that the attacks show the need for greater limitations on press freedom and freedom of expression.

Titled ‘Press freedom has its limits’, the Xinhua commentary, published yesterday, said: “it is high time for the Western world to review the root causes of terrorism, as well as the limitation of press freedom, to avoid more violence in the future.

“An armed attack on a media organization is shocking, but it is not even the first time Charlie Hebdo has been the target of terrorist attacks.

“Few media would print a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammad crouched on all fours with his genitals bared.

“But the French weekly insisted on publishing this kind of caricature, which has pushed the freedom of expression to its limits, rather than making a satirical point.”

The Mandarin version of the commentary went further, saying: "As everyone knows, the world is diverse, and there should be limits on press freedom". 

When asked to comment on the Xinhua article in a press conference, a spokesperson for the Chinese government’s Foreign Ministry said that the piece only represented the views of the media itself.

He said: “I’d like to point out that China always maintains that different civilizations and religions should respect each other, treat each other as equals and stay in harmony.”

Journalists in China have also come together in solidarity to condemn the Charlie Hebdo attacks, with members of the Foreign Correspondents' Club of China gathering in a Beijing bookstore last Thursday to voice their support. According to the Wall Street Journal, the gathering came under close police scrutiny, with both plainclothes officers and officers in uniform videotaping those attending. 

 

Picture: Wikimedia.

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