July 31 — More independent-minded commercial media in China asked tough questions about a public apology issued by Guilin Daily — the official party party of leaders in the city of Guilin — under apparent pressure. In its apology, the newspaper said a story about an official clean up of the local tourism industry had been “improper at points,” “having a negative impact.” The “negative impact” cited in the Guilin Daily apology – and a companion apology from the reporter responsible, Liu Guidan (刘桂丹) – presumably referred to local unrest following the July 26 publication of the story, which reportedly drew waves of petitioners from the local tourism industry to the Guilin office of the party committee. However, local officials did not step forward to explain exactly how the report had been “improper”, leading to speculation the report had in fact been true and that local leaders were using the newspaper as a scapegoat.
July 31 — Press freedom organization Reporters Without Borders issued a press release condemning a decision by Chinese judicial authorities not to renew the practicing license of Li Jianqiang, a lawyer who has defended journalists and dissidents.
August 1 — A CCTV order for the removal of all temporary (freelance) reporters by July 27 was confirmed by Hong Kong’s Ta Kung Pao, a newspaper with ties to China’s leadership. Sources said the order came on the heels of the recent “cardboard bun” affair at Beijing TV.
August 2 — In the latest salvo against local television stations in China following the “cardboard bun” affair, the government office charged with controlling broadcast media released an official notice yesterday demanding television networks broadcast advertisements “in strict accordance with laws and regulations.” The notice, issued by the State Administration of Radio Film and Television (SARFT), went farther than past warnings, targeting ads with “subtle sexual connotations” as well as adds for “illegal” medications and those promising to enhance sexual performance.
August 2 — Reporters Without Borders condemned the closure of Chinese civil rights website Zhonghua Shenzheng (http://www.shenzheng.cn) on orders from the Ministry of Information Industry (MII). “At least 11 websites have been definitively or temporarily closed or blocked since 1st July, while others have been forced to remove content that upset the authorities,” the organisation said in a press release. “We are witnessing a crackdown on the Chinese Internet that could be linked to the preparation of the next Communist Party congress in October.” RSF listed recent actions against press freedom as follows:

Early July: An official in the city of Xiamen announces his intention to ban anonymous comments on the Internet.
4 July: An order is issued closing the China Development Brief website.
9 July: Cyber-dissident Sun Lin is accused of possessing explosives. The trial of Guo Feixiong is adjourned
11 July: Closure of Lu Yang’s “Forum of Contemporary Chinese Poetry” and two of his other forums. The 20,000 Chinese visitors to the Israeli website shvoong (www.shvoong.com) find their access is blocked.
12 July: Closure of the chat room on the Mongolian Youth Forum (www.mglzaluus.com/bbs) website.
16-22 July: The Maoist website Maoflag (www.maoflag.cn) is closed and then reopened after the withdrawal of a letter criticising the Communist Party leadership.
16 July: Cyber-dissident Zhu Yufu is sentenced to two years in prison.
18 July: Huang Qi’s website, 64Tianwang (www.64tianwang.cn), is forced to close temporarily after being hacked.
26 July: Access is restored to the workers rights website Tongyipianlantianxia (www.blueseasky.cn) after being blocked for two weeks.
23-29 July: A young Internet user, Li Xing, is arrested and charged with “disseminating false information and helping to create an atmosphere of panic” about the flooding in the northeast.
26 July: The trial of cyber-dissident Guo Feixiong is adjourned for two and a half months for lack of evidence.
30 July: Closure of the Zhonghua Shenzheng (www.shenzheng.cn) website.

David Bandurski

CMP Director

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