Reporters Without Borders, an international non-governmental organization dedicated to maintaining freedom of the press, released its 2019 Press Freedom Index on Thursday April 18. It assesses the level of freedom of the press in 180 countries and territories. China fell one place in the rankings, dropping to the 177th place, the fourth from the last place.
According to Reporters Without Borders’ “The 2019 annual report on Freedom of the Press,” the global press freedom index fell by 13 percent, while the press freedom in the Asia-Pacific region was also quite poor. Due to totalitarian propaganda, press censorship, violent attacks, and cyber harassment against journalists, a great deal of courage is required for an independent journalist in the Asia-Pacific to do his work. Many democratic countries in the region are also fighting against false information.
According to the report, in the Asia-Pacific region, South Korea has the highest ranking of press freedom with a rank of 41st. The index rankings of China and Vietnam have dropped by one level from last year. They are now at 177 and 176 respectively.
The report pointed out that China’s national leader Xi Jinping revised the constitution in 2018 and became the Chairman of China for life. The general secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam, Nguyen Phu Trong, was elected president of the country in October last year. These two countries not only restrict the state-owned media from having freedom of the press, but also ruthlessly suppress the citizen journalists who try to report different opinions. In China, 65 journalists and bloggers are currently in prison; in Vietnam, about 30 professional and non-professional journalists are being held. China’s current Internet surveillance is also extremely strict. People are imprisoned simply because they leave messages or forward information online.
Reports from Reporters Without Borders also pointed out that China has not only consistently tried to obstruct news reports from foreign journalists in China, but it is now actively working to establish a new order for news reporting under its control. The Chinese-style of comprehensive censorship and self-censorship has begun to serve as a model for other non-democratic regimes in the Asia-Pacific region. Niu Danyang, director of the Asia-Pacific Office of Reporters Without Borders, pointed out that China’s promotion of its press review is worrying: “Countries like Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand are also actively emulating China’s anti-freedom press model. China has also set up a government radio station for Cambodia, while Thailand has actively deported dissidents who fled China and sent them back to China. China promotes its news censorship model internationally and is therefore a threat to freedom throughout the world.”
Source: Radio Free Asia, April 18, 2019