Newspapers around the world are joining a growing campaign to force the Chinese authorities to allow full freedom of the press ahead of this summer’s Beijing Olympics.
The World Association of Newspapers is calling on editors and publishers to print a full-page advertisement that says China is currently detaining 30 journalists, plus as many as 50 ‘cyber-dissidents’and bloggers, for exposing the regime’s activities.
Last Friday, the Birmingham Post agreed to print the ad once a week for three weeks in a weekly supplement. Newspapers in Yemen and Poland have this month printed the ad. The claims within it have met with strong denials from the Chinese embassies in those countries.
The poster asks: ‘Would you be comfortable with the thought of the Olympic Games taking place in a country that imprisons its own journalists for telling the truth?’
Virginie Jouan, co-director of press freedom at WAN, said: ‘There is a real commitment from editors and publishers to use the ads to press the case and to express solidarity
with their counterparts in China, some of whom are in jail without any lawful grounds and for extensive sentences.
‘This is an opportunity that will not arise again.’
Chinese journalists Zhu Wangxiang was sentenced to 10 years in jail in 2006 for writing articles about government seizure of villagers’ land.
Shi Tao also received a 10-year prison term for informing foreign websites that the Chinese government had banned the commemoration of the Tiananmen Square massacre on its 15th anniversary.
The Paris-based WAN group, which promotes the business and free-speech interests of newspapers, is organising a conference in April on how the world’s press should react to the China’s suppression of journalists.
For more information on the campaign go to www.wan-press.com/china.