A United States-based organisation Committee to Protect Journalists on December 15 revealed that China jailed a record number of journalists this year, making it ‘world’s worst jailer for the second year in a row’.
According to CPJ’s annual global survey, at least 274 journalists have been jailed on December 1, exceeding the high of 272 in 2016.
“China, which arrested several journalists for their coverage of the Corona pandemic, was the world’s worst jailer for the second year in a row. It was followed by Turkey, which continues to try journalists free on parole and arrest new ones; Egypt, which went to great lengths to keep custody of journalists not convicted of any crime; and Saudi Arabia,” CPJ highlighted.
The CPJ has pointed out that many of 47 prisoners in China are serving long sentences or are jailed in Xinjiang "without any charge disclosed".
“The three still jailed on December 1 include independent video journalist Zhang Zhan, who began posting reports from Wuhan on Twitter and YouTube in early February and was arrested on May 14. Her videos include interviews with local business owners and workers on the impact of COVID-19 and the government’s response to it,” the CPJ said.
Zhang Zhan was one of the journalists in CPJ’s global census who relied heavily on social media as all other media outlets are heavily censored or controlled by the state.
“Her videos are likely still available to a global audience because they are hosted by companies outside China. But CPJ found that similar content produced by others who were later jailed had been taken down for reasons that were not clear, hindering research and underscoring longstanding concerns about transparency by global tech giants like Google, Twitter, and Facebook,” the CPJ said.
It is to be noted that at the time when the coronavirus emerged at Wuhan, Beijing arrested several journalists for coverage and that went against the official narrative of China.