A spokesperson from China’s General Administration of Press and Publications (GAPP), the government body that handles the licensing of media and journalists, said yesterday that Chinese laws and regulations “have never permitted” government agencies or other organizations to maintain journalist “black lists.” The announcement came in response to a statement from China’s Ministry of Health (MOH) earlier this month that it would keep a black list of journalists responsible for false or misleading reports on health and food safety. The remarks from the MOH drew widespread anger inside China, and were also reported in the international press.
The GAPP spokesperson emphasized yesterday that China’s “Management Regulations for News Journalist Press Cards” (新闻记者证管理办法) state clearly that “news reporters holding press cards and conducting news reporting activities in accordance with the law are protected by the law,” and that “functional departments of people’s governments and their employees should provide the necessary conveniences and protections to lawful acts of news reporting.”
In response to the GAPP announcement, scholar Tao Duanfang (陶短房) said that while the statement was welcome, in practice Chinese journalists are routinely inhibited by local governments in the process of reporting stories. Tao asked: “If the creation of ‘black lists’ of journalists is has ‘never been permitted’, how is it that certain [government] departments and local governments have been able up to now to, openly or secretly, carry out policies [against the press] that are unreasonable, illegal and ‘not permitted’?”
[ABOVE: In this cartoon by artist Fu Yexing (付业兴), two big black arms labelled “journalist black list” come down to restrain a reporter whose valid press card sits on the ground.]