China’s (still) fettered press
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China’s (still) fettered press

Behind the recent hacking of foreign news outlets is a massive censorship machine writes Asia Sentinel

The recent reports of persistent penetration of western news organizations’ computers by Chinese hackers are spectacular, but they are just a a small part of a much larger campaign to control China’s image that began almost at the time of the revolution in 1949.

“For the past four months, Chinese hackers have persistently attacked the New York Times, infiltrating its computer systems and getting passwords for its reporters and other employees,” the New York Times reported on January 30.

The attacks on the Times, the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg began after reporters published stories detailing massive wealth accumulated by the families of incoming Chinese leader Xi Jinping and outgoing premier Wen Jiabao.

The Chinese foreign ministry has denied any connection between the hackers and the government, however, it appears that these attacks and others almost certainly originated out of Beijing, along with a concerted campaign by the “5-centers,” students and others who are paid a pittance to monitor Western news sites and bombard them with flame-throwing comments blaming Western imperialism for whatever troubles China faces.

Doug Young, formerly a Reuters correspondent in Beijing and Hong Kong and now an associate professor of journalism at China’s Fudan University in Shanghai, outlines just how extensive China’s control of the media is in a new book published in January and titled The Party Line: How the Media Dictates Public Opinion in Modern China (John Wiley & Sons). Young interviewed scores of Chinese journalists from local newspapers, television stations and national news outlets such as the state-owned Xinhua news service in the course of writing the book.

The Communist Party, he writes, uses the media to show the world as a harmonious place – “One whose farmers and factory workers smile and whistle while they work, whose scientific and economic achievements abound, and where the party is a source of comfort in times of trouble.”

Continue reading at Asia Sentinel.