[House Hearing, 111 Congress] [From the U.S. Government Publishing Office] REPORTING THE NEWS IN CHINA: FIRSTHAND ACCOUNTS AND CURRENT TRENDS ======================================================================= ROUNDTABLE before the CONGRESSIONAL-EXECUTIVE COMMISSION ON CHINA ONE HUNDRED ELEVENTH CONGRESS FIRST SESSION __________ JULY 31, 2009 __________ Printed for the use of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China Available via the World Wide Web: http://www.cecc.gov U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE 54-372 PDF WASHINGTON : 2010 ----------------------------------------------------------------------- For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office Internet: bookstore.gpo.gov Phone: toll free (866) 512-1800; DC area (202) 512-1800 Fax: (202) 512-2104 Mail: Stop IDCC, Washington, DC 20402-0001 CO N T E N T S ---------- Page Opening statement of Douglas Grob, Cochairman's Senior Staff Member, Congressional-Executive Commission on China............ 1 Liu, Lawrence, Senior Counsel, Congressional-Executive Commission on China....................................................... 1 Ford, Jocelyn, 2007-2009 Chair, Media Freedoms Committee, Foreign Correspondents' Club of China; freelance radio and multimedia journalist..................................................... 3 McLaughlin, Kathleen E., Chair, Media Freedoms Committee and Secretary, Foreign Correspondents' Club of China; China Correspondent for BNA, Inc., and freelance journalist.......... 6 Esarey, Ashley, Visiting Assistant Professor of Politics, Whitman College........................................................ 9 APPENDIX Prepared Statements McLaughlin, Kathleen E........................................... 26 Esarey, Ashley................................................... 28 Submissions for the Record Prepared Statement of James Fallows, National Correspondent, The Atlantic Magazine.............................................. 31 From the Atlantic, ``Their Own Worst Enemy,'' by James Fallows, November 2008.................................................. 33 From the Atlantic, ``The Connection Has Been Reset,'' by James Fallows, March 2008............................................ 38 From a Freedom House Special Report, Freedom At Issue, ``Speak No Evil--Mass Media Control in Contemporary China,'' by Ashley Esarey, February 2006.......................................... 44 From Asian Survey, Vol. XLVIII, No. 5, September/October 2008, ``Political Expression in the Chinese Blogosphere--Below the Radar,'' by Ashley Esarey and Xiao Qiang....................... 56 REPORTING THE NEWS IN CHINA: FIRSTHAND ACCOUNTS AND CURRENT TRENDS ---------- FRIDAY, JULY 31, 2009 Congressional-Executive Commission on China, Washington, DC. The roundtable was convened, pursuant to notice, at 2:03 p.m., in room 628, Dirksen Senate Office Building, Douglas Grob, Cochairman's Senior Staff Member, presiding. Also present: Lawrence Liu, Senior Counsel. OPENING STATEMENT OF DOUGLAS GROB, COCHAIRMAN'S SENIOR STAFF MEMBER, CONGRESSIONAL-EXECUTIVE COMMISSION ON CHINA Mr. Grob. Good afternoon, everybody, and thank you very much for attending the Congressional-Executive Commission on China's ninth public roundtable for the 111th Congress. I'd like to welcome you on behalf of Cochairman Sandy Levin, and for our Staff Director, Charlotte Oldham Moore, I'd like to welcome you on behalf of Chairman Byron Dorgan of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China. We're very pleased to see you here today. The House and Senate, as you know, have been pulling very late nights preparing to go out of session, so that you would take your time at this busy juncture to be with us today is something that we're grateful for, and that speaks to the importance of the topic of our roundtable this morning: Reporting the News in China: Firsthand Accounts and Current Trends. I'd like to, at this point, turn the floor over to Lawrence Liu, to my right, Senior Counsel with the Commission, and our staff specialist on free expression, free flow of information, and the Internet in China. So, Lawrence, please. STATEMENT OF LAWRENCE LIU, SENIOR COUNSEL, CONGRESSIONAL- EXECUTIVE COMMISSION ON CHINA Mr. Liu. We are convening this roundtable nearly a year after China hosted the Olympics. The timing is significant because it was the Olympics that prompted Chinese officials to grant foreign journalists allowed into China new freedom to report. This past year has been significant for domestic and foreign journalists in China for other reasons as well. Journalists have had to contend with covering news amid the global economic downturn and concerns from Chinese officials over maintaining social stability. 2009 also contains a number of sensitive anniversaries in China, including the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen protests, the 50th anniversary of the Dalai Lama's flight into exile, and the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China, to name a few. The Internet continues to play a major role in shaping news coverage, and earlier this month protests and violence broke out in Xinjiang, testing the Chinese Government's commitment to openness and transparency. We are lucky today to have a group of panelists who can offer both a first-person perspective and a broader analysis on the impact of these events on reporting the news in China and what the last year has meant for press freedom. Before introducing the panelists, I want to take this brief opportunity to let you know how the Commission has been covering these issues. In connection with this roundtable we have put out a quick brief that provides an overview of press freedom issues in China. We publish ongoing analysis on our Web site in a periodic newsletter. We recently wrote several pieces analyzing the Chinese Government's attempts to require all computers sold in China to come pre-installed with the Green Dam filtering software. Finally, we will be issuing our 2009 Annual Report this October. Now I would like to introduce the panelists. Sitting to my left is Jocelyn Ford, a Beijing-based multimedia journalist. During her eight years in China she served as Bureau Chief for U.S. Public Radio's Marketplace, and you may have heard her on other public radio shows such as Studio 360. From 2007 to 2009, she chaired the Media Freedoms Committee at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of China. She also has the unique perspective of having worked for the state-run China Radio International. She is currently working on her first documentary about a widowed Tibetan migrant worker. Also sitting to my left is Kathleen McLaughlin, the Beijing-based China correspondent for BNA, where she writes about legislative and regulatory affairs in China. She is currently head of the Media Freedoms Committee for the Foreign Correspondents' Club of China. She has spent most of the past decade covering news in China, and you may have seen her articles also in the Far Eastern Economic Review and Christian Science Monitor, including a recent piece on Uyghur workers from the toy factory that sparked recent protests in Xinjiang. And finally, sitting to my right is Ashley Esarey, a Visiting Assistant Professor of Politics at Whitman College in Washington State. In June, he completed the An Wang Post- Doctoral Fellowship at Harvard, and previously was a professor at Middlebury College. He has done extensive research on China's media and Internet, including for, Freedom House, and we have made copies of two of his pieces available at the door. He is currently working on a book: ``The Challenge of Truth: Media and Power in Contemporary China.'' Mr. Grob. Thank you, Lawrence. I'd just like to note that, unfortunately, James Fallows, whom we had hoped to have with us today, has taken ill, we learned this morning, and is unable to join us. Also, I'd like to just mention, before I turn the floor over to Jocelyn Ford for her remarks, that we'll proceed as follows: our panelists will give brief statements, after which we will open the floor to questions from the audience. We are creating a transcript of this event to be published on our Web site, so when we come to the Q&A we will have further guidelines on how the Q&A will proceed. But without further ado, I'd like to ask Jocelyn for her remarks. STATEMENT OF JOCELYN FORD, 2007-2009 CHAIR OF MEDIA FREEDOMS COMMITTEE, FOREIGN CORRESPONDENTS' CLUB OF CHINA; FREELANCE RADIO AND MULTIMEDIA JOURNALIST Ms. Ford. Thank you for the introduction and thank you for inviting us here. Thank you, the audience, for your interest in this subject. As China becomes more influential in the world it is increasingly important for the world to have access to accurate and timely information out of China. Unfortunately, China's advances in openness have lagged behind its economic advances. So, I'm glad that you all have an interest in this topic. Today I will introduce the Foreign Correspondents' Club of China, tell you what reporting was like before the Olympics as well as how the Olympics changed reporting conditions for foreign correspondents, and outline obstacles and issues we still have to deal with. The Foreign Correspondents' Club of China [FCCC], as we know it today, was started around 1981. Today's membership includes about 260 journalists from countries all over the world. We also have associate members from embassies and companies. Our activities are open to Chinese nationals, but we do not have Chinese members. Chinese authorities consider the Foreign Correspondents' Club of China an illegal organization. As some of you may know, the Chinese Government requires nonprofit associations and organizations to register. However, the FCCC board has been told we are not welcome to register. To register, we would need a government organ to support our request and no government office is willing to do so. First, let me give you the big picture about the Olympics. If you talk to foreign correspondents who have been in China, say, since the 1990s--I arrived in 2001--they will tell you that reporting conditions are pretty good today. From a long- term perspective, China has moved in the right direction. Did the Olympics help improve working conditions for foreign media faster than would have happened had China not hosted the Games? Definitely yes. But the government is not making its best effort to make good on the Olympic promises it made to foreign media and on information openness. It would be unrealistic to expect conditions to improve dramatically overnight. Change does not happen that rapidly in any country, and certainly not in China. But in China, too often regulations and laws are often not enforced. Sometimes it feels like we've gone two steps forward, one step backward, two steps forward, and maybe three steps backward. In general, China is moving in the right direction, but it is important to remain vigilant. One example I hope concerned parties will keep an eye on is the revised State Secrets Law, which was recently opened for comment. So what was it like reporting before the Olympics? Officially, according to the rules, foreign correspondents were required to get permission every time they wanted to leave their home base, which in my case, as I was registered in Beijing, would be Beijing. So if I wanted to go across the country to interview somebody, according to the rules, I needed to get permission. Now, of course, when reporters try to cover a topic the government wants to keep hushed up, say AIDS villages in Henan Province, they will not be granted permission. So, as a result, reporters played cat-and-mouse. The reporter might travel in the middle of the night to the village, wrap up reporting by 2 o'clock in the morning, and leave, hopefully while the officials were sleeping. Reporting sometimes felt like cloak-and-dagger work, without the daggers, of course. For example, in 2002 I went to cover unrest in a northern oil town. Every time there was a knock on my hotel door, my colleague feared it would be the authorities who had come to detain us for being in the city without permission. At the time, it was fairly safe to report openly on non-controversial issues, even without permission, but reporters covering stories the local or central government regarded as ``sensitive'' would need to take extra precautions to avoid being discovered and detained. In the run-up to the Olympics, the Foreign Correspondents' Club sought to lobby the Chinese Government to change some of these restricting rules, and in 2006 three of us had an informal meeting with a Foreign Ministry official. Remember, we're an illegal organization, so we met as ``friends,'' not as representatives of the Foreign Correspondents' Club of China. In that meeting we said that we would like to see scrapped the rule that limits our ability to travel, and the official said, ``Well, how about if, instead of getting permission to go, you just sent a fax in advance announcing you are coming? '' Presumably under such a system the sources the journalist wished to interview might be barred from meeting the reporter. So we said, if the fax notification was voluntary, that would be fine. But it shouldn't be required. The official, at that meeting, told us that the government was serious about its Olympic promise to allow unrestricted media coverage and that it planned to have rules in place a year in advance. We were very pleasantly surprised when those rules came into play on January 1, 2007, a year and a half ahead of the Games, and they went further than we had expected. They did not require fax pre-notification. Basically the new rules, which were called ``temporary rules'' for the Olympics, allowed foreign correspondents to interview anybody who agreed to be interviewed. Tibet was still off-limits, but otherwise we could, according to the regulations, roam the country freely. This was progress. Of course, as I said earlier, in China implementation of laws and regulations is often a problem, and the ``free reporting'' regulation is no exception. After the regulation was brought into force in January 2007 there were a number of high-profile news stories, including the Tibet unrest in March 2008 which Kathleen will be talking about. In 2008, the FCCC confirmed 180 violations of the regulation. We did not have the manpower to follow up on each incident we were informed of, and I am sure there were many more we didn't even hear about. Foreign correspondents didn't know what to expect after the Olympics were over. But the FCCC was pleased when the temporary regulation, after a few amendments, was made permanent in October 2008. As can be expected, there are a lot of outstanding problems, but overall correspondents feel empowered by the regulations. When traveling around the country and officials say reporters are not allowed on their turf, we can now say, ``Yes, we are, and here's the regulation.'' Sometimes it works. Sometimes they say, ``Oh, okay, we can't disturb you.'' Sometimes, if reporters threaten to call the Foreign Ministry to report local authorities are harassing them in violation of the rules, the locals will back down. Other times they say ``We don't care,'' or cite a local regulation restricting reporting, which usually they can't present on paper. We have surveyed our members over the years. A year ahead of the Olympics, so about half a year after the new rules had been implemented, about half of the respondents said that the reporting environment was improving. We sent out a survey this year, and the response was about the same. But obviously there is also a lot of dissatisfaction. We asked how many thought reporting conditions in China meet international standards, and something like 95 percent of respondents said they do not think China's reporting conditions are up to international standards. The Olympics appear to have been a catalyst for the Chinese Government to overhaul its approach to information control. Instead of restraining foreign correspondents as they did under the old rules, they now try to control our sources. The intimidation has shifted from stopping correspondents from conducting interviews, to stopping Chinese citizens from speaking to us. The end result is we are still not able to report freely. Harassment of interviewees is our top concern. Treatment of Chinese national news assistants who work for foreign organizations is also a big concern. Kathleen will fill you in on the details. Before I close, I would like to mention some positive changes that are worth noting but haven't received a lot of attention. Chinese authorities are becoming more proactive, for example, by holding more press conferences and media tours. Though too often these events are used to push soft stories, and reporters often do not feel they get adequate answers to their questions, still, this is a step in the right direction. It also suggests the Chinese Government believes it can achieve its goals more effectively by controlling or influencing the narrative, rather than by silence. Its practices are moving closer to those in other influential countries. The Olympics were also used to educate local officials nationwide on new principles of openness. I had access to an internal police circular for the Olympics with instructions for handling foreign correspondents. The police were told not to interfere when foreign correspondents interview religious groups, activists, environmental organizations, or other groups the government traditionally sought to silence. The directive, which I presume has expired with the Olympics, however, said if the interviewee was a Falun Gong practitioner, a Tibetan activist, a Uyghur or talking about Taiwan independence, the correspondent should be allowed to conduct the interview, but afterward the police should blacklist the journalist and deal with the interviewee in accordance with the law. Some news sources have been arrested and put in jail, following trials that included ``speaking to a foreign correspondent'' as evidence of wrongdoing. But I've also been pleasantly surprised to find awareness of the new policy of ``openness'' has reached some remote areas. Last month I was attending a wedding in a small town in the northeast corner of Inner Mongolia. I ran into a local court official at the celebration, who was happy to describe activities at his courthouse. I asked if I could do a video interview with him for a story I was working on about rural land disputes. He said, I could interview him since ``China has media freedom [Xinwen Ziyou],'' but I would need to ask his boss. His boss said I would need to apply to officials in the next town over. I didn't have time. Still I was surprised to hear him talk about media freedom, and he did let me film the inside of the courthouse. When I first arrived in China in 2001, I don't think I would have heard the term, especially not from a low court official in a remote corner of the country. So I do think the message is seeping down to some people at lower levels in China. I think that is a very positive Olympic result that doesn't get highlighted a lot. With that, I'll turn it over to Kathleen, who will give you the details of what happens in the field. Mr. Grob. Thank you very much, Jocelyn. Kathleen? Please. STATEMENT OF KATHLEEN E. McLAUGHLIN, CHAIR, MEDIA FREEDOMS COMMITTEE AND SECRETARY, FOREIGN CORRESPONDENTS' CLUB OF CHINA; CHINA CORRESPONDENT FOR BNA, INC.; AND FREELANCE JOURNALIST Ms. McLaughlin. Thank you. Thank you for inviting us here, and thank you for coming. We appreciate it. So, Jocelyn has kind of taken you through the history of where we've been as foreign correspondents in China, and now I'd like to give you some examples of what's been happening lately and give you some ideas of what we're concerned about into the future. In particular, I want to make clear that we believe Chinese assistants and Chinese sources are coming under increasing pressure, which is a real roadblock to free and open reporting. I also want to speak about the importance of free media for global economic issues and how China's information controls make it difficult for foreign correspondents to cover everything, including the economy. So let me start with a little story about something that happened a couple of months ago, and this might give you an idea of the new kind of interference and pressure we're facing as journalists. On June 3 and 4, Beijing's Tiananmen Square was filled with hundreds of people. Walking onto the square, it appeared that 80 to 90 percent of the people were actually plainclothes police and army. Nearly all of them carried umbrellas, and at first glance it seemed the umbrellas were to block the hot sun overhead. As the hours wore on and foreign journalists appeared on the square to report about the 20th anniversary of the crushing of the Tiananmen movement, it became clear that the hundreds of umbrellas were there to serve a dual purpose: they were used to physically block journalists and cameras from filming on the square. So while from a distance it appeared the square was full of tourists with umbrellas, in fact, it was clear that something else was going on. We didn't have any reports of journalists being detained or arrested on the square that day, but we had a lot of calls from people who had their pictures ruined by plainclothes police with kind of pretty little parasols. I think this is a good example of this sort of soft harassment we've begun to see more of in recent months. It's less dangerous and less direct than what we saw in the past, but it's no less effective in preventing us from doing our jobs. Now, as Jocelyn mentioned, the Foreign Correspondents' Club is in the midst of a new members' survey, and the results we're getting are telling. Now, keep in mind we're not a polling firm so these aren't scientific results, but they give us an idea of the issues that are important to individual members. As Jocelyn said, about half of the members who've taken the survey so far do believe the reporting climate in China is improving and it's heading in the right direction, and that's consistent with what we've heard from the beginning. Still, many are concerned about current issues. About two- thirds of the correspondents have had some kind of interference in doing their daily work, and more than two-thirds who work with a Chinese research assistant say their employee has been hassled or summoned for questioning by authorities in the last year. We've also had several reports of sources facing repercussions after talking to foreign journalists. Now, with that, to give you an idea of how things might be changing, let's go back to Tibet in March 2008. In the days following the Lhasa riots, foreign correspondents were shut out of Tibet. It's always been difficult for us to report in that region given that entrance to Tibet requires a special permit. All foreigners are required to get that permit, but journalists are scrutinized pretty closely and often denied. Last spring after the riots, foreign correspondents were not only shut out of Tibet, but repeatedly detained, harassed, and sometimes forcibly prevented from doing their jobs across the Tibetan plateau. The FCCC took more than 40 cases in which correspondents were prevented from working. Outside of Tibet proper, the area that technically doesn't require the special permit, foreign news crews were blocked and Chinese staff intimidated, and in at least one case a driver was threatened with arrest. So you can see it's not just foreign correspondents being harassed, but also the Chinese nationals involved in our work. And these are the people for whom this kind of interference could have life-altering consequences. So soft harassment, for example, where a police officer inserts himself into an interview, making it clear there may be consequences for the interviewee, has become fairly routine. In July 2008, I was the first American journalist allowed to travel independently to Lhasa. I was allowed to move relatively freely throughout the city. If anyone was following or listening to me I didn't see them, but the city was so full of police and military, the main obstacle I had is that most residents, both Tibetan and Chinese, were simply too afraid to talk to me. Access to Tibet and the region remains a problem to this day for foreign correspondents. Now, let's jump ahead to more than a year later, when we faced something similar with the uprising in Xinjiang on July 5. As you know, nearly 200 people were killed when Uyghur protests in the capital, Urumqi, turned violent. What we saw in the days after marked a dramatic departure from the government's closed-door policy toward foreign journalists in Tibet. Journalists were immediately allowed into Urumqi, and by most accounts they were given freedom to interview and move about. There were some logistical problems with the Internet and telephone access, but the general climate marked a significant change. We'd like to hope that the government recognized the value of allowing foreign correspondents to report on the ground and to see things with their own eyes. Covering Xinjiang, however, was not without problems. Urumqi was relatively open, but the far western city of Kashgar was, by all accounts, completely closed. Officials denied the closure, but we've heard from several journalists who traveled there that they were intercepted and ordered to leave. Also, 2,000 miles away in Shaoguan, the site of the toy factory murders that sparked the Xinjiang riots, one local driver of a foreign reporting crew was called in for police questioning after the reporters left town. So, you can see there was a spread on that issue, very different things happening in Kashgar and Shaoguan than happened in Urumqi, which was quite open. After covering and writing about Xinjiang, two correspondents received anonymous death threats. Now, given the shift and the fact that foreign journalists were allowed to report rather openly in Urumqi, we do see a real potential for change, but there are still these trouble spots and continued problems. As the Chinese rules have more aligned with international reporting standards, harassment and intimidation may be going underground. By that, I mean the pressure is falling more often on vulnerable Chinese sources and staff. Now, in recent months we have encountered a new couple of trouble areas. At the beginning of the year, registered Chinese staff of foreign news bureaus in Beijing were called in for formal meetings and training, and potentially were lectured by officials, who threatened them with revocation of their accreditation, possibly losing their jobs. The new rules that were issued at that time urged the news assistants to promote positive news stories about China within their organizations. Additionally, they were instructed that it was illegal for them to conduct independent reporting activities. The Foreign Correspondents' Club believes that this new code of conduct discriminates against Chinese news assistants. Foreign companies in other industries can freely hire PRC citizens as full-fledged employees. In addition, the code is a business restriction that places foreign media at a competitive disadvantage. Chinese journalists in most developed nations can hire local staff without these kinds of restrictions. In China, foreign media are obliged to hire staff through the government's Personnel Services Corporation, which then directs their activities and holds regular meetings with the assistants, I believe, to talk about how they conduct their business. Now, another troubling development comes in the financial news sector. There is an area of tension that may stem from foreign financial news services competition with China's home- grown financial news wires. While political news is generally considered more sensitive, financial news is coming under greater scrutiny. Most financial indicators are widely circulated before being officially released. In the past, the leaked figures would often find their way into Chinese and foreign media, but foreign media organizations have now come under pressure, including an implicit threat to be investigated under the state secrets law, for publishing data that hasn't been officially released. The tightening of these restrictions dates from the fall of last year and the global financial crisis. At that point, Chinese economists were urged to conform to the mainstream view on the economy and speak less to the media. Controls over publishing-leaked information were also tightened. This is a situation we're watching closely because we're not quite sure what direction it's headed in, but there is definitely an increased pressure on foreign financial news wires operating in China. I will conclude my remarks now. So as you can see, we have made a lot of gains in recent years and we still face some critical issues, namely, trying to maintain the safety of Chinese sources and staff while doing our job, and also pressure over information that might present competition to Chinese media, as well as the ongoing interference and harassment of the kind we've seen for a number of years. Thanks. I look forward to your discussion. Mr. Grob. Thank you very much, Kathleen. I'd like now to turn the floor over to Professor Esarey. [The prepared statement of Ms. McLaughlin appears in the appendix.] STATEMENT OF ASHLEY ESAREY, VISITING ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF POLITICS, WHITMAN COLLEGE Mr. Esarey. Thanks very much for inviting me. It's a great pleasure to be here. Doug, thanks for moderating this panel; Lawrence, thanks for making everything happen. My remarks are going to be directed toward Chinese journalism, which is the subject of my research. The first thing I think you should know is that Chinese governments have been controlling political information of a wide variety of sorts for at least 1,000 years. So we're not talking about a new phenomenon, we're talking about new ways to control information in China. The primary way that you can control information in this modern age is by controlling the mass media, by controlling the Internet, cell phone text messages, and so on. The Chinese Government now faces a dilemma. The Chinese Communist Party wants to modernize the country. It wants to develop. In order to do so it has to allow some freedom of information. However, by allowing freedom of information it risks empowering critics; it risks giving activists a chance to use blogs to launch social movements. In short, the Party risks its unchallenged hegemony on political power. That's what is at stake. We also know, based on social science scholarship, that if you allow media openness, it is likely to empower social organizations, whether they are legal or illegal, and it's often conducive to democratization. These are both things the Communist Party is fighting very hard to stop. A little bit of history: At the founding of the People's Republic on October 1, 1949, the Chinese Communist Party made a marked departure from all other Chinese governments in the past in that it sought to control all political information in its society. It sought a totalitarian model in which the Party controlled the education system. Media organizations were controlled. The Communist Party nationalized all foreign and privately owned media; all so-called imperialist and antirevolutionary/counterrevolutionary literature was seized by the police and the postal service--what a scholar named Peter Kenez has called the propaganda state was largely established by about 1956. There have been some exceptions in terms of the ways in which information and the media have been controlled. The 100 Flowers Campaign and the Cultural Revolution are two exceptions, but by and large the Party's ability to dominate the media and political information have allowed it to get the public to support its plan to radically change the Chinese into a Socialist society. Now, fast-forward to the death of Mao in 1976. Reformers, led by Deng Xiaoping, were able to emerge and they were very concerned about the media because, during the Cultural Revolution, a very tumultuous period, media had been shut down; the Party lost control of media, and media had become boring. Deng and others believed that media could be commercialized and propaganda could be repackaged to make it more attractive; ultimately, the media commercialized sufficiently so that they could be largely self-supporting. As the Party media commercialized, its incentives began to change. Commercialization of the Chinese press has led to a couple of noteworthy developments. Although when we consider liberalization in the Chinese media over the last 30 years, we're not going to be talking about journalists challenging President Hu Jintao about his policies or the nation's policies toward Xinjiang. That sort of thing does not occur in the Chinese press. Chinese leaders are never criticized by name. With commercialization, however, media now care about the public and they want to please consumers. That means that while they must serve the Party and state organizations that control them, they're also interested in investigative journalism when they can make it happen. There have been interesting examples of that. I'll just cite a couple. One was reporting in 2003 about the murder of a graphic artist, Sun Zhigang, in a detention center in Guangzhou. This then led to a major change in national policy vis-a-vis migrant workers. In 2007, there was a story done by Hunan Dianshi, Hunan television, that led to the release of people being held in slavery, as many as 600 people who were held in slavery in brick kilns in Shanxi Province. The most interesting example of media freedom, if you will, in China, occurred after the Sichuan earthquake last May, when the Communist Party Propaganda Department that guides media content ordered media--local media, provincial media, municipal media all around the country--not to go to the disaster area and report on location. These orders were widely defied and media went and reported on this very important news. That, I think, many scholars saw as a breakthrough, because it was the first time that we had seen widespread noncompliance with bans for politically sensitive media coverage since, perhaps, the Tiananmen demonstrations in 1989. Windows of freedom have opened for Chinese media, but they do not last long. They're often closed by the Communist Party's Propaganda Department, when it's able to do so, or when the government is able to portray its efforts as having effectively dealt with the problem. What about the Internet? How is that affecting things now? Well, the Internet, as many of you know--I see there are a lot of younger people here today--has lots of applications and China is following the United States and other advanced countries very rapidly in terms of its adoption of all sorts of applications for using the Internet. Blogs are extremely popular. There are 300 million Chinese Internet users. This is an old statistic. It's a statistic from January of this year. I say ``old'' because the number of Internet users increases so rapidly that statistics are quickly out of date. China has 300 million Internet users and 160 million bloggers. That is a tremendous amount of bloggers. And these bloggers are writing in ways that are totally different from the mass media. They advocate democracy and political reform, freedom of speech, and all sorts of other concepts that you just can't see in the mass media. We've got good quantitative data to demonstrate this. These new media have been used by members of the middle class in cities like Shanghai and Xiamen to organize protests. Often cell phones are used to circulate messages very rapidly. There are 650 million cell phone users in China. That is, again, a statistic from December of last year. So, Chinese use cell phones to access the Internet, messages are circulated, and demonstrations can be organized. The Chinese Government has maintained that ethno-nationalists in Tibet, and certainly Xinjiang, have used this new media to a very deadly effect. That has been the sort of critique of new media power that we have seen by the central government mouthpiece, Xinhua News Service. My argument at the outset was that the Chinese Communist Party has a dilemma, and the dilemma is: it must allow information freedom if it wants to develop, yet if it allows information freedom it risks losing power. I think the sorts of measures that Kathleen was talking about--new ways to keep foreign journalists from being very active, new ways of harassing assistants who work for foreign journalists--these measures indicate that the old measures for information control aren't working; they show us that the state believes that new measures are necessary. For the Internet, one of these new measures has been the Green Dam software that the government tried to get installed on all personal computers sold inside China. There was push- back from the U.S. Government and, more quietly, from the business community, but the largest push-back, at least public push-back, came from Chinese Internet users themselves who felt that this software represented an invasion of privacy, and the government did suspend its attempt to impose this software on all machines sold in China. In China, we are seeing what David Shambaugh has argued is a daily battle waged between state and society over what is fit to know. Commercialization has changed the incentives of the media. They must now please consumers to survive. Media that were once the mouthpieces of Mao Zedong's government now perform their propaganda role unwillingly. Commercial media would like to compete with blogs and social networking sites for the attention of the public, however, party restrictions bar the media from doing this and sometimes this leaves journalists as uncomfortable as a cat in a bag. Ultimately, tight control over media content, in the context of Internet freedom, contributes to disbelief, even cynicism, toward state propaganda. The Chinese Communist Party may control the messages in media reports, but this no longer means the public believes the message. Thank you. [The prepared statement of Mr. Esarey appears in the appendix.] Mr. Grob. Thank you, Ashley, for your remarks. I'd like to thank all of our panelists for some very illuminating and stimulating comments. I'd like now to open the floor to questions from the audience. If you have a question, please, if you would, raise your hand, wait to be recognized, and wait a moment for the microphone to come to you, or feel free to come to the microphone. I'll repeat that we are creating a transcript of this event, which will be posted on our Web site, so, for that reason, I'd like to ask that, if you do have a question, to identify yourself. If you do not wish to identify yourself and wish to be identified in the transcript only as ``audience participant,'' that's fine. Just indicate that you do not wish to identify yourself and we will respect that desire. With that, questions, please? Yes, sir. Mr. Wides. Thank you. I'm Burt Wides. Until January, I was, for many years, a congressional staffer. Now I'm a private citizen. A question basically for Kathleen and Jocelyn. You've talked about a lot of modernizing. I've seen a lot of articles about protests about houses being seized, democracy protesters, lawyers. But the big lacuna is stories about Falun Gong in the U.S. media. Jocelyn mentioned that interviewers of the Falun Gong were blacklisted or the interviewees were arrested. Well, we know that many Falun Gong gravely risk both arrest and torture to protest, so the fault must be on the U.S. media side. When there are occasional stories, they seem compelled to give equal time or treat equally the Chinese propaganda, which is contrary to what the United Nations, the United States, all the human rights groups have said. So my question is: why isn't U.S. headquarters, the bureau, the individual journalist, concerned? Does blacklisting mean they would be kicked out of the country? What is the reason for that, in your view, and what can be done about it? Mr. Grob. Thank you. Ms. McLaughlin. I can't speak from personal experience on that because I haven't covered Falun Gong myself. I also don't know of any reporters who have been thrown out of China for writing about it. There certainly is pressure on it. I have heard of cases of journalists being called in by the Foreign Ministry after writing about Falun Gong, but I can't really answer why these reporters would approach the story the way they do. I think it's an individual basis and it's probably their own news judgment. Jocelyn may have more personal experience with it, so I'll turn it over to you. Ms. Ford. I have not covered any stories directly. I have discussed this with some journalist colleagues, and all I can say is that I think there are a lot of editorial-room decisions or individual decisions by journalists. In the past there have been journalists who were evicted from China. I believe the most recent case, though, was around 1999. Since I arrived in China in 2001, I am not aware of any journalists who have been kicked out. However, the government does put pressure on media groups by withholding or delaying visas. Of course, this can be difficult to pin down. But I am aware of journalists who were told by the Foreign Ministry their visa was being delayed because the Chinese Government was unhappy someone in their organization had interviewed the Dalai Lama or then-president of Taiwan Chen Shui-Bian. I don't think this is a new form of pressure. Mr. Wides. Do you think print or TV organizations have reached agreements with Beijing---- Ms. Ford. I don't think so, personally. I have seen no evidence of that. Mr. Grob. Okay. Ms. Ford. As some of you may know, petitioning is quite common. In China, if somebody has a grievance, and the Chinese court does not solve it for them, often they will call journalists and petition or harass the journalist, expecting the journalist to help deliver justice. People who behave in this way often do not get coverage. This is based on conversations with other journalists. I have not received this kind of harassment myself. Mr. Guerra. Good afternoon. Thank you for convening this event. My name is Robert Guerra. I'm the project director at Freedom House's Internet Freedom Project, and for the last, about, year and a half we've been covering the issues of Internet freedom, and to do a report on China, have been following very closely both the issues related to the Internet in China, but also trying to find ways to get first-hand reports of what Internet policy is like in China and trying to have people there participate more effectively. It's good to hear that bloggers and the use of the Internet are increasing. Recent conversations and dialogues with people in China really show that that's really a medium that's really being used to bypass a lot of the blockages, both technological, to get news across. I have, kind of, probably two parts of questions. There seem to be organizations that cover traditional media, but I'm curious if there's anything that includes kind of the new media and if there is anything that bloggers' organizations or news organizations are trying to maybe help their Chinese blogging colleagues somehow, because just as it said that bloggers might present a new window, there are reports over the last week or so that a lot of the bloggers and other Internet activists who were involved in the Green Dam push-back are now being visited, are maybe having computers seized, and whether that's a result of that or other repression that's been taking place over the last two weeks with other lawyers being arrested, kind of gets me to the question, well, what can be done and how can the traditional media maybe work with this newer media, given that in Chinese it's the space that there is a window of possible openness, but also, as some other colleagues say, that if there are things that develop in China to control it, that might then move itself to other parts of the world. So, China might set a standard or might set--so I'm just curious what your thoughts are. I would have thought to hear a little bit more about the Internet, but then again, I follow it closely, so that's maybe more of a passion. So I'm curious. And again, thank you for convening this event. Mr. Grob. Thank you. Any takers? Mr. Esarey. Sure. I'm a scholar, so when you ask, are there organizations, the first thing that comes to mind are scholarly organizations. This may be of little help to you, but there's an organization called the Conference for Internet Research in China and they have annual conferences and they follow Internet developments very quickly, pretty well, and they have some things. But you're looking for organizations of bloggers in China. They have begun working together both inside and outside China. The blog is a distinctive personal medium and it's one that allows a lot of inter-linkages to other blogs and other Web sites that a blogger wants to affiliate him or herself with. So you do sort of see these organic communities emerging. For example, there's a blogger named Ai Weiwei, who has been trying to document the number of children who died in Sichuan as a result of faulty construction of schools. He has encountered all sorts of difficulties from the government. His blog postings have been erased, his blogs have been shut down, he's been harassed, he's monitored, his volunteers are harassed. So, you do have that sort of a thing, but other bloggers follow his activities and say, wow, that's interesting, and sometimes link to his blog and give his blogging significance through the larger inter-linkages on the Internet. But the main difference between a blogger and, say, a journalist in China is that journalists are dependent upon their activities to pay the rent, pay their mortgages, send their children to school. They can be fired if they don't do what their bosses or the Communist Party Propaganda Department wants them to do. Bloggers aren't like that. They don't depend on their blogs for any source of personal income, so they have a lot more freedom. They don't get instructions from the Propaganda Department about what they can say and what they can't say. They may look online to see what other bloggers are writing by doing some searches, but they are much more free. They're just qualitatively vastly freer in the way that they express themselves. And they privately own their medium. So there may be a way to work with bloggers or to help them, but it's unclear how international organizations could maybe work with bloggers in ways that don't lead them to receive more scrutiny and more harassment and result in the more rapid shut down of their sites. Mr. Grob. Jocelyn? Ms. Ford. I'll just add to that. Are you familiar with [deleted]? Okay. So he has an annual blogging conference that you're probably familiar with. Mr. Guerra. That's the one to which I was referring. Ms. Ford. Okay. Mr. Guerra. Unless you mean the one in China that he's held at Hangzhou and other places in the past. Ms. Ford. Yes. Yes. That's the same. Mr. Guerra. I think he's one of many sponsors. Ms. Ford. Right. He's one of the organizers of that. Ms. McLaughlin. From the foreign media perspective, I can tell you that the Chinese Government Ministry of Foreign Affairs has not yet approved any journalist accreditations for online media, and I know there have been some applications. So it's a new world for them from that aspect as well. No one has told me the reason on the record for that, but I'll just tell you that they're not accrediting any online-only media at this point. Mr. Grob. Yes, sir? Mr. Gibson. Jeff Gibson, Georgetown University. I have two questions for our distinguished practitioners and scholars, one political, one demographic. The demographic. You all mentioned that China has more than 300 million-plus Internet users and close to 700 million cellular phone users, our panelists told us. Looking 10, 20 years down the line, what do you think the implications of that connectivity, that's more than three times the U.S. population, is? There was an interesting article in, I think it was Global Times a couple of months ago called ``The Alternative Cyber- Universe,'' and it talked about how Tudou and other Chinese Internet sites may not even be known by the majority of Americans, but have more users than like a Facebook or a Twitter. So that's my demographic question. The political one is: have you all seen an increasing sophistication in state media messaging? I'm curious, looking back at the Sichuan earthquake, last winter's cold snap, the Tibetan riots, and most recently the Xinjiang riots. Thank you. Mr. Grob. Thank you. Ms. Ford. Sophistication? Absolutely. Ogilvy and Xinhua have opened an education program to help teach the government how to spin in a more sophisticated way. When I worked for China state radio in 2001, the policy was to promote ``happy'' news, or positive feel-good stories. These would account for at least 80 percent of the stories. I think we've seen a shift in that. I believe the government propaganda strategists think if they allow enough negative news through, the positive news will enjoy greater credibility. That's my own interpretation. I have not confirmed this with policymakers. I think China's news business is becoming increasingly sophisticated in this way. I don't know if any of you are familiar with the new English-language publication, the Global Times, which is published under the People's Daily umbrella. They are moving much closer toward Western-style journalism than the China Daily, the English-language daily based in Beijing. The editors say their goal is to be a watchdog, to the extent possible. I've been impressed that they seek to provide balance and to fill in the holes in news stories. They will report when officials decline to reply. They are reporting more diverse views, and views that oppose some government policies. Some stories, however, do not meet the same standards, and may serve propaganda purposes. Mr. Esarey. Yes. I'd just like to say something in regard to Mr. Gibson's first question about demographics, which I think is really a political question: how are the demographics that we're seeing now in terms of Internet use and cell phone use going to play out down the line when the trajectory of usership continues to climb? In maybe 5 or 10 years, almost every Chinese will have a cell phone. Instead of 20 percent of the population being online, we'll see 40 percent, or 50 percent, or 60 percent. How is that going to change things? Nobody has good answers to this question. I think I would make two observations, because no one can predict the future, right? At least not very reliably most of the time. My observations are that if you've got a lot of freedom on the Internet, despite blockages on sites and harassment of bloggers and so forth, bloggers are still very free, compared to a tightly controlled traditional media-- newspapers, magazines, television stations, and so forth. People are going to tune out official media sources. They're going to tune them out and they're going to go to the Internet for what they consider to be the unvarnished truth, or at the very least, for information that's unmediated by the state. If the traditional media does not respond by liberalizing its content, it's going to lose market share. Believe me, they don't want that. So I think you'll see more push-back from journalists who want to report the kind of news Chinese consumers would like to see. Mr. Grob. Let me jump in and ask a point of clarification, drawing on Jocelyn's point about liberalization on the one hand, and sophisticated creation of the illusion of liberalization, on the other. Do you have any thoughts on what might trigger one versus the other? Mr. Esarey. Oh, I think the regime has been trying to create sophisticated illusions of freedom for a long time, really since the founding of the country. Making media interesting has been a priority since the early 1950s. It has just been very difficult to achieve with party committees controlling all the media. But some Chinese journalists have said the investigative journalism that we're seeing is really like opium. One Chinese journalist used this expression, ``it's opium,'' because investigative journalism makes people believe that there is freedom, when in fact there isn't very much in the media today. Mr. Grob. Yes, sir? Just as a reminder, since time is running short, if I could ask you to keep your questions to one question, and to make sure it is a question and not a comment. Thank you. Mr. Ausbuck. My name is Dave Ausbuck. I don't know if this is related, but I thought it was, so I'd ask it. Next year, the Chinese are hosting a major World's Fair exhibition in Shanghai. The theme is ``Better Cities, Better Life.'' So I guess the question I have for you is, have you detected any sense of they're going to allow--if you know what a World's Fair is, it's all the countries, and even the nongovernmental organizations, even religions, come by and have pavilions and are free to put out their own content. This seems to me the first time I've ever heard about a World's Fair being hosted in a non-democratic, authoritarian country. The question I have: do you know of any plans to censor? Most exhibits there are in the form of videos about these countries. They're celebrating cities which are traditionally known for more freedom of expression and diversity and tolerance. So do you know of any plans to censor the exhibits there and the expression there at the expo that you know of, or have you detected any sense that they will be more tolerant of freedom of expression there at the World's Fair next year? Mr. Grob. Thank you. That's an excellent question. Maybe, Kathleen? Thank you. Ms. McLaughlin. I don't have a great answer for you because I haven't heard about any--it's a great question. It wouldn't surprise me if there were some censorship because there was during the Olympics last year, as you know. Messages about Tibet, Tibetan flags, things of that nature were barred from the Olympics, so it wouldn't surprise me if the same sort of thing happened. But I haven't heard of it as yet. So, something to watch out for. Mr. Liu. Let me just ask as a followup to that question, because you raised this very interesting notion of the significance or the distinction in media coverage in cities versus in less urban areas and the notion that a city is--in some sense it's of necessity, in some sense by design--more diverse, more tolerant. To what extent have our practitioners seen any noticeable or detectable difference along the urban-rural divide in the coverage of stories in China or how the media operate, or the rules that apply, or the Party and the government's approach toward journalists along spatial lines, specifically urban and rural? Ms. McLaughlin. I can just speak from my own experience on that. It is oftentimes easier to report in rural areas because people tend to be economically less well off and therefore have less to lose, so they will be more honest with you. However, the flip-side is, local officials and local governments tend to be more restrictive, maybe not as aware of the new regulations, so there's a little bit of a dichotomy there. People would be more open, but at the same time local officials might be more closed. That's just my own personal experience. Ms. Ford. My experience in talking with Chinese colleagues is that, yes, it's much easier to push the envelope in urban areas than in rural areas. Maybe some of you have lived in China. I often feel like I'm time traveling when I leave Beijing and get off the beaten track. I feel like I am going back 5 or 10 years. The government mentality often, as Kathleen said, is from a different era. But recently I've become more optimistic. I mentioned the example from Inner Mongolia. I was very surprised that, in a tiny town, a local court official was parroting something about media freedom. ``Wow! '' I thought, ``This is progress.'' At least he knows the terminology. Thanks. Mr. Grob. Yes, ma'am? Ms. Earp. Madeleine Earp, Committee to Protect Journalists. My question for the panel is: What advice would you give, or do you give, to foreign journalists who are navigating this new environment of soft harassment that you mentioned? Should they continue to approach sources and news assistants if there's the potential for there to be retribution from officials afterward? Thank you. Ms. Ford. The question was for pressure on assistants specifically, or in general? Ms. Earp. Assistants and sources. Ms. Ford. Assistants and sources. Okay. It's very important that journalists understand the risks and are able to read the tea leaves because regulations and laws are spottily enforced. I feel strongly that reporters should not assume the source is aware of the various risks. Correspondents should evaluate the risk and make sure their sources are willing to shoulder them. Of course, journalists also may not be aware of the risks. I was fortunate to be able to hire an assistant who not only was extremely savvy about risks, but also had a relative who was in a position to help her out should we run into trouble. I felt more comfortable when I was going into risky territory because I didn't need to worry about her so much. But you can't always have that. I think it's very important that correspondents discuss the risks with assistants and evaluate what the assistants are willing to do. I want to be clear there are many stories that aren't sensitive. It is also important to discuss communications. I assume that all phone calls could be intercepted and listened to. It doesn't mean the authorities are listening to every phone call, but if I am calling a sensitive source I assume that the source's phone is being listened to and therefore I will be followed and watched after I have contact with that person. The FCCC actually has some guides online and we've printed wallet cards about what to do, how to protect yourself and how to protect your sources. A lot of people forget that managing communications carefully is extremely important. Sources have been arrested, detained, or questioned because of what was said on a telephone. Mr. Grob. Let me just ask a followup to some of the things you just said that also go back to the prior question. That is, displaying my own ignorance here, just to put China in perspective internationally, what do we know about other authoritarian states--do some have a less heavy-handed approach toward the media? Can we get some broader, either historical or global context here, and how do we place China along a spectrum in that regard? Ms. Ford. I'm sure the Committee to Protect Journalists is in a better position to address that, but let me take a stab. I often open talks by saying that though correspondents in China face many obstacles, it is a lot safer to report in China, for example, than, say, in the Philippines. Most foreign correspondents, I believe, assume the worst that will happen is they could get kicked out of the country. The greater danger, of course, is for our sources. But the reporters in China-- again, other people have the statistics--may be more likely to be jailed than in many countries. I think it's important to keep this in perspective. Having said that, though our lives are not as much at risk as journalists in other countries like the Philippines and Iraq, we all want you to pay attention to the issues we're concerned about. Mr. Grob. Yes? Ms. Vandenbrink. Rachel Vandenbrink, Radio Free Asia. Could you please perhaps explain why reporters haven't been able to get access to interview Uyghurs in order to get an accurate casualty count in the recent protests? Also, how did the blocking of Internet and phone access to Xinjiang affect the reporting environment for foreign reporters? Ms. McLaughlin. I can try and take that. You're talking about a casualty count in Urumqi, correct? I wasn't in Urumqi. I can't tell you who was or wasn't interviewed. I assume that, you know, just a random sort of Uyghur that you could interview on the street wouldn't be able to give you a verifiable, confirmed casualty number. So I think you're relying on official statistics there. That's my best guess. And what was your second question? I'm sorry. Ms. Vandenbrink. About the blocking of Internet access and telephone access. Ms. McLaughlin. Right. So Internet access was cut completely, is my understanding. Telephone access was very spotty. What the local government did for foreign journalists was set up a media center and gave them Internet access, so that's how they were able to access it there. A lot of people were filing via satellite phones, which I believe are not technically legal. Is that right? Ms. Ford. That's my understanding. Ms. McLaughlin. Right. But they were allowing the foreign journalists to use satellite phones, so there was a lot of that going on. I can tell you my own experience reporting in Shaoguan, the toy factory murder site. It wasn't possible to interview Uyghurs because they were completely restricted from access. We couldn't talk to them. The interview requests were denied. They were not out walking on the streets. We couldn't ask them how many people were killed in the toy factory because they just weren't there. I think the situation is a lot different in Urumqi proper because it would be difficult to get one single person who could give you a verified casualty count. Mr. Grob. Jocelyn? Ms. Ford. Perhaps a clarification. I think international phone calls were blocked, but local---- Ms. McLaughlin. Local phone calls were spotty. Ms. Ford. Okay. Spotty. But international--some people were sending the message off to somebody else who did have Internet connection and would post something online. So, there was sort of a relay. Mr. Liu. I just want to follow up with another question about the role that the U.S. Government may, or may not be able to play in terms of supporting the ability of foreign journalists in China to report freely. When there have been restrictions in the past, the U.S. Government has at times made statements in support of allowing journalists unfettered access to certain areas that had been closed off. Have you found those statements to be at all helpful? If you have any suggestions as far as what role the U.S. Government can play, that would be helpful, bearing in mind that we also, I imagine, do not want to be seen as interfering as well in terms of the sort of separation between the state and the press. Yes? Ms. Ford. Thank you for that question. I'm sorry. I have been on vacation so I haven't been paying so much attention to the news. But I regard the open comment period on the state secret regulation as a very positive move. I don't know if the U.S. Government made a comment. But I think encouraging open comments on regulations regarding media and then actually participating in the process and encouraging an opening up of the process is very positive. China ratified the U.N. Covenant on Civil and Political Rights but did not pass it. I just want to say, if there's one thing you walk out of here with, it's this: as long as Chinese citizens are not free to talk to foreign correspondents, we are not free to report. So I think the issue really is, how can we encourage a situation where Chinese citizens are free to speak to us without retribution. Ratification--again, not everything is implemented perfectly, but ratification--encouraging ratification of international agreements, I think, is a positive step. At least it gives us more to fight with. When I created the wallet card outlining legal rights of foreign correspondents in China, I sought advice from a number of lawyers. We're not always aware of changing laws, and we don't try to use them. To the best of my knowledge no foreign correspondent has ever sought to sue government authorities for rights violations, or for compensation for injuries suffered at the hands of authorities who tried to stop legal reporting activities. Regardless of whether the journalist is likely to win such a case, a lawsuit would generate a headline, and draw attention to illegal actions on the part of authorities. I do think the U.S. Government could engage in more dialogue with China on how to balance national security interests and freedom of information. The FCCC is seeking to promote a gold standard for international reporting conditions. All we can do is express our views and hope that the Chinese Government takes them into consideration and looks for the best international practices. So, I think any sort of exchange on these issues, especially protection of sources, would be worthwhile. About 130 countries around the world have some sort of protection, legal or otherwise, for news sources. You cannot have a free media without protection of sources. So, I think encouraging this kind of dialogue with China would be useful. Any activities that promote the view that the free flow of information can help solve social problems, such as unrest, would be worthwhile. It's important to reiterate the view that nations that respect and protect the free flow of information are more likely to enjoy wide international respect. Mr. Grob. On that note, if you had the ability to recommend a single coordinated message that Members of the Congress and administration officials could deliver regarding press freedom to Chinese officials, say, during visits to China, whether it be to officials at the central level or at the local level, what would be the one-sentence message that they could deliver that you think would be most important, most effective? And I'm talking about both in public and private conversations, that would be most important or most effective in terms of advancing press freedom and media freedom in China. Anybody? Ms. Ford. You're challenging. If I could do a one-sentence message I'd probably be working for a PR firm and be making a lot of money. I usually get 40 seconds on the radio, so can I do 40 seconds? In all seriousness, I think encouraging the idea that diversity of views, tolerance of different views, and discussion of different views is a way to solve problems. It is not what creates the problems. In China we often hear the argument that open discussion leads to social unrest, hence the controls. I think it would be useful to promote case studies from other countries where dialogue with an ethnic group that felt it was being unfairly treated helped reduce tensions. Does that help answer your question? Mr. Grob. Yes. Thank you. Ms. Ford. So I can get that PR job? This is on the record. I should be careful, huh? Mr. Esarey. I have a one-sentence comment. That is improve journalistic professionalism. I mean, by supporting the training of Chinese journalists and inviting them to come to the United States to work in the U.S. media organizations and learn about our values concerning the news and strategies for reporting the news; improving journalistic professionalism could also occur through better training for the U.S. journalists who go to China. This goes back to Madeleine Earp's question, which is, how do you avoid this reliance on assistants? Well, one way is to really bone up on your Chinese language ability to read and speak fluently enough to do a lot of your own reporting. I think probably half, if not more, of the foreign journalists working in China are not truly fluent in Chinese. That's something that could be improved with more training, more journalistic professionalism of a different sort, I suppose. Ms. Ford. May I comment? There is often a division of labor between assistants and foreign correspondents. I don't have an assistant now. When I worked with an assistant, we analyzed every situation and discussed whether an individual or organization was more likely to open up to a foreigner or more likely to open up to a Chinese national. The language issue is not the only consideration here. Sometimes, it is safer for the source to speak to a Chinese. Being seen with a foreigner would be more risky. Some Chinese feel more comfortable speaking to foreigners about sensitive issues. I agree training is important, but training should include how to deal with delicate situations, and how to make prudent decisions when there are no clear rules, because, of course, rule of law is not implemented to the degree that one would like. Ms. McLaughlin. While we are concerned about harassment of assistants, really the other core issue is harassment of sources. That is happening where the correspondent is completely fluent in Chinese. Maybe he's even ethnically Chinese. You have sources being harassed and suffering repercussions for talking to foreign journalists, and that just shouldn't happen. Ms. Ford. Sorry. May I add one more thing. In fact, foreign journalists of Chinese descent often face very different pressures from foreign journalists who look like me--and since the audio is being recorded: I don't look Asian. So I think that one needs to have a very broad understanding of how to get information safely and all the tactics go into the toolbox. Reporters need to be prudent in choosing a strategy. Of course, the ideal situation would be to have laws fully enforced and the new regulations for foreign journalists and the constitutional right to freedom of speech upheld. If this were to happen, I think a lot would be solved. Mr. Grob. Questions? Yes, sir. Mr. Martin. I'll try to speak up. Michael Martin from the Congressional Research Service. Ashley, earlier you mentioned about the cynicism of the public in China toward the state-run media. There is a growing non-state run media in China. Caijing magazine recently featured in the New Yorker, for example, is one source. Then, also, you have the Western media that is also operating inside China. There are some indications that cynicism is bleeding over to the private and to the Western media--for example, the anti-CNN Web page which is out there-- and critiquing Western coverage of events in China. I was wondering if the panelists would like to comment on cynicism and the view inside China toward media in general, and how much they discriminate against state-run, the domestic private, and then the Western media sources. Thank you. Mr. Grob. Wow. We have six minutes left and that could be another panel. But Ashley? Mr. Esarey. Sure. Michael, thanks very much for your question. Caijing is an excellent magazine. It's technically registered with a state organization, although it has shareholders and it operates like a private corporation. Its reporting is definitely fueled by the motivation to make a profit. But I think the keys to its success have been excellent political savvy, tremendous management, and paying journalists good salaries, as opposed to the more common practice of rewarding only the reporting that is politically acceptable. The anti-CNN situation is pretty complex. There is a lot of information available about the people who are involved in this movement, if you can call it that. Some of them have now rejected the movement and left it. There is definitely some dissension among the people who are involved. Does that reflect a sort of cynicism? I think anti-CNN is more related to the manifestation of nationalism on the Chinese Internet today. The anti-CNN thing was about Jack Cafferty, a commentator for CNN, who made a deprecating remark about the quality of Chinese leaders. The Chinese state actually kicked into gear its Party operators. They're called the 50-Cent Party, wumao dang. These people posted nationalistic comments attacking CNN on lots of Web portals, according to research by David Bandursky in Hong Kong. So I think the anti-CNN situation is complex. As far as the mainstream media goes, Party media will lose circulation unless it commercializes and caters to nationalist tastes. Often within media groups you have Party media that are broadcasting more propaganda and commercialized media that are trying to raise revenue through reports that please consumers in various ways. Ms. Ford. A quick question and a comment. I do believe the anti-Western media campaign has had a tremendous and long- lasting effect. I often hear from Chinese now that foreign reports are not so credible. Before, Western media was the golden city on the hill and some Chinese thought they could believe everything that appeared in overseas media, which is probably not quite accurate either. It wasn't just one mistake that led to this distrust of Western media on certain issues. I think the message many Chinese took home was that the foreign media is against China. I don't think that was the reason most of the mistakes were made, but foreign media did little to explain or provide context. There should've been more reports analyzing why the mistakes were made. Having worked as a foreign correspondent and having fought against stereotypes held by my U.S.-based editors regarding countries I've reported from, I can say China is not the only country that suffers from inaccurate reporting. Yes, the media also needs a watchdog, or an ombudsman. Nobody is perfect in the world. Inaccurate reporting is not exclusively a China problem. There was also little mention at the time that reporting is likely to be more accurate if reporters have access to news sites, and sources are free to talk without intimidation or fear of reprisal. The accuracy of reporting would also be helped if China stopped manipulating its media for propaganda purposes. Mr. Grob. Thank you. Any more questions? [No response]. Mr. Grob. Well, let me just put this question to our panelists. Members of Congress and administration officials travel to China. They interact with the Chinese media, they interact with the foreign media while they are in China. I know that some Members and administration officials--for instance, Speaker Pelosi, Secretary Clinton--have even engaged in Web chats and other sorts of online activities during trips to China. What advice would you give to a Member of Congress or an administration official who is about to head to China for even just a short trip? What's the most important thing that they would need to keep in mind, that they might not ordinarily know about, regarding how to interact with the media in China, and how to prepare for their encounters with the media in China? Ms. Ford. May I? I actually have an interesting anecdote about Speaker of the House Pelosi's visit. I received a call from a journalist in southern China who wanted to interview her. The journalist told me she thought she needed a connection to get the interview, and she thought I had connections at the embassy. I said, she could go talk to the embassy directly, that's the way America worked. Well, I don't know how true this is. But in America, at least the front door should be open so they should try a front-on approach. I think outreach by American Senators and Members of Congress to local journalists would be very well received. Again, recently the same person said she felt that there were fewer controls on what they could do as a local newspaper with international reporting. She really wanted to beef up her team and she was asking me how to do that. So, I think there are tremendous opportunities. I suggested she write an e-mail. By the time she sent the e-mail Pelosi's visit was almost over. She never got a response. So, I think if American delegations are open to all media, and not just the most famous outlets, they may find a lot of interest. Mr. Grob. Thank you very much. Kathleen, did you have something to add? Ms. McLaughlin. I guess my advice would just be to be open and honest and don't censor yourself when you're in China. I'm not accusing anyone of having done that, but I think it's helpful if people speak out about what they believe in when they're there. Mr. Grob. And for the last word, since it is 3:29 p.m. Mr. Esarey. I would just urge our elected representatives to recognize that their public remarks can very easily be misconstrued in a media that is subject to close scrutiny and tight political control. So try to be sure--I would urge them to try to be sure that the message they want to get across gets across and to actually read the Chinese press coverage that results from their visits, and complain if they feel like their remarks were not properly translated. Of course, the ideal scenario would be for our representatives to bring their own translators. That leaves a lot less room for things to kind of go sideways in terms of communication. But if they're trying to get information, I think the best way is informal interaction-- dinners, the fun stuff. Mr. Grob. Well, the fun stuff. On that note, we'll end this fun stuff. It's 3:30. I thank you all very much for attending our roundtable today. I thank our panelists for some outstanding insights, and some wonderful, illustrative anecdotes, and some real concrete recommendations and thought-provoking ideas to take with us going forward. I'd like to thank our Senior Counsel, Lawrence Liu, for putting this together, and our staff, for your logistical support. With that, the ninth CECC roundtable of the 111th Congress is adjourned. Thank you. [Whereupon, at 3:30 p.m. the roundtable was concluded.] A P P E N D I X ======================================================================= Prepared Statements ---------- Prepared Statement of Kathleen E. McLaughlin july 31, 2009 Good afternoon. Thanks for inviting us to talk about this important issue. Jocelyn has taken you through where we've been as foreign correspondents in China, and I'd like to take you forward with the issues we continue to face. In particular, I want to make clear that we believe Chinese assistants and sources are coming under increasing pressure, a real roadblock to free and open reporting. I also want to speak about the importance of free media for global economic issues and how China's information controls make it difficult for foreign correspondents to cover everything, including the economy. tiananmen 20th anniversary: the umbrella men On June 3 and 4 this year, Beijing's Tiananmen Square was filled with hundreds of people. Walking on to the square, it appeared that 80- 90 percent of them were plainclothes army and police. Nearly all carried umbrellas, at first glance, to block them from the hot sun overhead. As the hours wore on and foreign journalists appeared on the square to report about the 20th anniversary of the crushing of the Tiananmen democracy movement, it became clear that the hundreds of umbrellas served a dual purpose. They were used to physically block journalists and cameras from filming on the square. So, while from a distance, it appeared the square was full of tourists, up-close, it was clear that something else was going on. I think this is a good example of the kind of ``soft harassment'' we've begun to see more of in recent months. It's less dangerous and less direct than what we saw in the past, but no less effective in preventing foreign correspondents from doing our jobs. continuing and new hurdles The Foreign Correspondents' Club of China is in the midst of a new member survey right now and the results we're getting are interesting. The results are not scientific, but give us an idea of what individual members face: About half of members who've taken the survey so far think the reporting climate in China is improving, which is consistent with when we first started asking this question. Still, many are concerned about pressing issues. About two-thirds of them have had some kind of official interference in their work over the past year. More than two- thirds of those who work with a research assistant say their employee has been hassled or summoned for questioning by authorities. We've had several reports of sources facing repercussions. problems in covering tibet in 2008 To give you an idea of how things might be changing, let's go back to Tibet in March of 2008. In the days following the Lhasa riots, foreign correspondents were shut out of Tibet. It's always been difficult for us to report in that region, given that entrance to Tibet requires a special permit. All foreigners are required to get a permit. Journalists are scrutinized more closely and often denied. Last spring, foreign correspondents were repeatedly detained, harassed and sometimes forcibly prevented from doing their jobs across the Tibetan plateau. The FCCC logged more than 40 cases in which foreign correspondents were prevented from working. Outside of Tibet proper--the area that technically doesn't require special travel permits--foreign news crews were blocked and Chinese staff intimidated, and in at least one case, threatened with arrest. So you can see, it's not just foreign correspondents being harassed, but also the Chinese nationals involved in our work--people for whom police action can have life-altering consequences. We seem to be witnessing a trend toward harassing and intimidating these people more--blocking them from talking to us, warning them against helping us. Soft harassment, for example, where a police officer inserts himself into an interview, making it clear there may be consequences for the interviewee, has become fairly routine. In July of 2008, I was the first American journalist to travel independently to Lhasa, I was allowed to move freely throughout the city. If anyone was following or listening to me, I didn't see them. But the city was so full of police and military, the main obstacle I had is that most residents--both Tibetan and Chinese--were too afraid to talk to me. Access to Tibet and the region remains a problem to this day. xinjiang riots and coverage More than a year later, we faced something similar with the uprising in Xinjiang on July 5. As you know, nearly 200 people were killed when Uighur protests in the capital Urumqi turned violent. What we saw in the days after marked a dramatic departure from the government's closed-door policy toward foreign journalists in Tibet. Journalists were immediately allowed into Urumqi, and by most accounts, given freedom to interview and move about. There were logistical problems, but the general climate marked a significant change. We'd like to hope the government recognized the value in allowing foreign correspondents to report on the ground. Covering Xinjiang was not without problems. While Urumqi was relatively open, the far western city of Kashgar was closed. Officials denied the closure, but we've heard from several journalists attempting to travel to there, who were intercepted and ordered to leave. Also, 2,000 miles away in Shaoguan, site of the toy factory murders that sparked the Xinjiang riots, the local driver of one foreign reporting crew was called in for police questioning after the reporters left town. Additionally, two correspondents received anonymous death threats after writing about the Xinjiang unrest. Given the shift and the fact that foreign journalists were allowed to report rather openly in Urumqi, we do see real potential for change. But there are trouble spots and continued problems. As the rules have more aligned with international reporting standards, harassment and intimidation may be ``going underground. `` The pressure seems more often directed at vulnerable Chinese sources and staff. emerging issues, pressure on chinese staff And in recent months, we've encountered a few new trouble areas: At the beginning of the year, registered Chinese staff of foreign news bureaus in Beijing were called in for official meetings and training. New rules were issued to the assistants about proper behavior, including urging them to ``promote positive stories about China'' within their organizations. They were instructed that it was illegal for them to conduct independent reporting. We believe this new code of conduct discriminates against Chinese news assistants. Foreign companies in other industries can freely hire PRC citizens as full-fledged employees. In addition, the code is a business restriction that places foreign media at a competitive disadvantage. Chinese journalists in most developed nations can hire local staff without such restrictions. In China, foreign media are obliged to hire staff through the government's Personnel Services Corporation. financial news services Another troubling development is ongoing pressure on foreign financial news services--an area of tension that may stem from competition with China's homegrown financial news wires. While political news is generally considered more sensitive, financial news is coming under greater scrutiny. Most financial indicators are widely circulated before being officially released. In the past, leaked figures would often find their way into Chinese and foreign media. But foreign media organizations have come under pressure--including an implicit threat to investigate under the state secrets laws--for publishing data not yet officially released. The tightening of restrictions dates from the fall of 2008, and the global financial crisis. At that point, Chinese economists were urged to conform to the mainstream view on the economy and speak less to the media; controls over publishing leaked information were tightened. conclusion So as you can see, while we've made significant gains, we still face critical issues: Namely Trying to maintain the safety of sources and Chinese staff, pressure over information that might present competition to Chinese media, and ongoing interference and harassment of the type we've seen for years. Thanks and I look forward to your questions. ______ Prepared Statement of Ashley Esarey july 31, 2009 I am delighted that the Congressional Executive Commission on China has organized a panel to discuss how the news is reported in China by Chinese and American journalists. China has a tradition of state censorship that goes back more than 1000 years. The current political regime, led by the Chinese Communist Party, has controlled political information far more effectively than any government in the country's history. Yet Beijing's rulers face a dilemma. On the one hand, freedom of information is invaluable for making business decisions in the global economy, technological transfers, and scholarly exchange. On the other hand, media freedom has facilitated democracy movements in countries such as Mexico, Hungary, Taiwan, Indonesia, and Czechoslovakia. Media freedom is good for China's economy and public welfare but likely to weaken the CCP's political hegemony, as journalists expose policy failures and political activists use the Internet to organize demonstrations. The CCP controls Chinese media because its primary objective is to remain in power. In the last three decades, however, media commercialization, the growth of journalistic professionalism, cell phone use, and the Internet have made information control more difficult than ever. mao-era media Since the founding of the People's Republic on October 1, 1949, the CCP has sought to dominate all forms of political communication. The Central Propaganda Department of the Communist Party guided policies that placed media under party leadership, nationalized privately owned media, and divested foreign newspapers of the right to publish in China. Police, customs agents, and postal workers confiscated ``imperialist'' and ``counter-revolutionary'' literature. In the early 1950s, the People's Daily newspaper emerged as the mouthpiece of the Communist Party Central Committee and bellwether for the views of Mao Zedong and other national leaders. Xinhua News Service assumed a central role in disseminating carefully vetted reports around the country. Media at central, provincial, and municipal levels became ``mouthpieces'' of the CCP. Working though the State Press and Publications Administration, the Central Propaganda Department orchestrated the closure of media that did not comply with party directives. By 1956, China had established what Peter Kenez has called a ``propaganda state,'' with the country's entire media industry and education system firmly under party control. Mao's media proved to be effective tools for mobilizing the public in support of China's socialist transformation. While the stability of China's propaganda system was punctuated by events, such as the Hundred Flowers Campaign (1956-57), and the chaos of the Cultural Revolution (1966-76), leaders with the upper hand in Chinese politics have tightly controlled media content and operations. media commercialization in the reform era The death of Mao made possible the ascent of reformers, led by Deng Xiaoping. Far from an advocate of media freedom, Deng supported measures to commercialize the media industry so as to make it profitable and more attractive to consumers. The goal of commercialization was to revitalize media's propaganda role by repackaging the news. Party and state institutions retained power over commercial media by controlling ownership, personnel appointments, and cracking down on media that failed comply with content directives issued by central and local branches of the Propaganda Department. The result was a media system that combined the characteristics of Soviet- style media with Western media management strategies. My analysis of the newspaper content from 1980 to 2003 has shown that commercial media, in some cases, grew freer to criticize minor political problems, without jettisoning their propaganda role or challenging party leaders with substantial power to repress offending journalists. Media commercialization during the Reform Era (1978-present) changed the incentives for media, which recognized that freer, less doctrinaire reporting appeals to the public. When opportunities appeared, greater media freedom has emerged, although local, rather than central, officials are the targets of critical news reports. In colloquial parlance, Chinese media ``swat flies'' but do not ``hit tigers.'' Powerful political and economic interests can coerce or bribe media to abandon potentially embarrassing stories. Nevertheless, studies by Chinese communications scholars have documented a new ethos of professionalism among Chinese journalists. Strict adherence to the party line does not always trump the public's right to know about a natural disaster or the spread of a disease. Journalists who believe in their professional obligation to inform the public have found work in media, such as the Southern Metropolitan News, Southern Weekend, or Caijing Magazine. These media have encouraged reporters to push the limits of central government restrictions. Notable examples of investigative stories with a national impact have been reporting on the 2003 murder of graphic artist Sun Zhigang in a detention center for migrant workers, the 2007 exposure of slavery in brick kilns in Shanxi Province, and reports about the shoddy construction of school buildings that led to the deaths of thousands of children during the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. In the latter case, journalists from around China refused to comply with bans against going to Sichuan to report on location. Windows of freedom, so to speak, have been flung open and media have challenged the actions of local government before the Propaganda Department could regain control. The government at all levels is concerned with public opinion and seeks to conceal interventions in news reporting. Those who reveal acts of censorship take great risks in doing so. With few exceptions, media respect government bans on reporting certain stories; journalists eschew politically sensitive reporting. Rife corruption among journalists and a salary scale that rewards reporters for politically correct reports contribute to self-censorship.\1\ Nonetheless, a few journalists have succeeded in shedding light on isolated problems and acts of injustice; this has been done by reporting the news before the government issues a ban. --------------------------------------------------------------------------- \1\ Ashley Esarey, ``Speak No Evil: Mass Media Control in Contemporary China'', Freedom at Issue: A Special Freedom House Report, February 2006, http://www.freedomhouse.org/uploads/special--report/ 33.pdf. --------------------------------------------------------------------------- the internet and media freedom The growing wealth of Chinese citizens has given hundreds of millions of people the means to acquire new information and communications technologies for personal use. At least 650 million Chinese use cellular telephones--and more than 100 million use cell phones to access the Internet. Three hundred million Chinese have gone online, a number equivalent to the population of the United States. There are now over 160 million bloggers in China, according to Chinese official statistics released early this year. Content analysis research has shown that political expression in Chinese blogs is much freer than mass media; debates among ``netizens'' (wangmin) pertain to a variety of politically sensitive issues. The number of blog sites that mention keywords, such as ``democracy'' and political reform'' or ``freedom of speech'' and ``the Internet'' has increased exponentially over the last five years. The organizers of social movements by members of the middle class in Shanghai and Xiamen or the ethno-nationalists in Tibet and Xinjiang have utilized blogs, emails, instant messaging, and cell phone text messages to rally support for causes domestically and internationally. These actions have made the CCP fear the power of new media. The Chinese Propaganda Department, the Ministry of Information Industry, the Ministry of Public Security, and the Ministry of State Security have been at the front line of governmental efforts to control the Internet through the promulgation of restrictive laws, the use of computerized filters to eliminate content, and monitoring by the police. While the government has supported e-commerce and e-government, it has also trained party operatives to post content in online spaces, with the goal of ``guiding public opinion.'' In June 2009, the central government announced a regulation requiring personal computer manufacturers to install software that restricts Web access on all computers sold in the People's Republic. Called ``Green Dam Youth Escort,'' the software aimed to plug leaks that have spouted in the Great Firewall of China, the moniker for country's elaborate system of Internet controls. ``Green Dam'' was designed to censor pornography and politically sensitive content, but could also be used to collect data on individual Internet users. Chinese media reported the software had been installed on more than 50 million machines. Complaints by Chinese users of the software, bloggers and Chinese media, however, were strident: The software, some argued, was a rushed job that had not been adequately tested and might make computers vulnerable to hackers; others expressed dismay about the invasion of privacy or worried they might have to pay user fees in the future. Pushback by the United States Commerce Department and the international business community may also have influenced the Ministry of Information Industry's June 30 decision to suspend mandatory installation of the software. At a July 1 celebration by activists who had opposed the software, artist and blogger Ai Weiwei called the government's change of heart a ``victory for public opinion.'' \2\ --------------------------------------------------------------------------- \2\ Kathrin Hille, ``Chinese Bloggers Hail Green Dam Victory,'' Financial Times, July 1, 2009. --------------------------------------------------------------------------- summary In the words of David Shambaugh, ``a daily battle is waged between the state and society over `what is fit to know.' This contest reflects and constitutes a central contradiction in Chinese politics--between the needs of a rapidly modernizing economy and pluralizing society on the one hand and the desire by the party-state to maintain absolute political power on the other.'' \3\ The outcome of this contest remains to be seen. In the near term, pressures are mounting for more information freedom. Chinese citizens, as resistance to Green Dam shows, have become more assertive in protecting the power they have gained from new communications technologies. --------------------------------------------------------------------------- \3\ David Shambaugh, ``China's Propaganda System: Institutions, Processes and Efficiency,'' The China Journal, No. 57, January 2007, p. 25. --------------------------------------------------------------------------- Commercialization in China's media industry has created the imperative for media to please consumers in order to survive. Media that were once the mouthpieces of Mao Zedong's government now perform their propaganda role unwillingly. Commercial mass media would like to compete with blogs and social networking sites for the attention of the public. Party restrictions bar media from doing so, leaving journalists feeling as uncomfortable as a cat in a bag. Tight control over media content, in the context of Internet freedom, contributes to disbelief, even cynicism toward state propaganda. The CCP controls the message in media reports, but this no longer means the public believes the message. Submissions for the Record ---------- Prepared Statement of James Fallows, National Correspondent, The Atlantic Magazine july 31, 2009 My name is James Fallows; I am a national correspondent for the Atlantic Monthly, returned two weeks ago to Washington, DC after a three-year assignment in China. During that time I wrote many articles about China as well as a book, and had experiences dealing with both public and private organizations in China as a reporter. I am sorry that a sudden case of flu and laryngitis prevents me from making my comments in person today. Instead I will send a brief statement covering the points I intended to make. I would welcome an opportunity to answer any further questions or to join you another time. In my introductory statement I intended to make three points about the current state of reportage and public discussion in China. In addition, I have supplied to the Commission staff reprints of two relevant articles I wrote for The Atlantic while in China. The first, called ``The Connection Has Been Reset'' (March 2008), was about the technological and political underpinnings of the system of Internet control known informally as ``the Great Firewall.'' The second, ``Their Own Worst Enemy'' (November 2008) examined the reasons for the Chinese central government's often self-defeating attempts to control the way it is portrayed in international media. The three points I offer for discussion are these: (1) The Chinese system of media control, as it affects foreign and domestic reporters working inside the country and the information available to the Chinese public about their country and the outside world, should not be thought of as consistent, airtight, centrally coordinated, or reflecting a carefully thought-out long-term strategy. Instead it should be understood as episodic, hit-or-miss, rigid in some places and lax in others, and highly variable by region, time, and personality of those in charge. Anyone who has worked in China has illustrations of apparently illogical or inexplicable variations in media control policy. One day, a set of web sites with information about ``sensitive'' subjects will be blanked out by the Great Firewall; the next day, they will be available. During the violence in Tibet in 2008, CNN coverage was generally cut off as soon as anyone mentioned the word ``Tibet''; meanwhile, similar BBC reports were through unhindered. During that same period of violence, Tibet was generally closed to foreign correspondents; this year, during the violence in Xinjiang, the government organized press tours for international reporters. The Beijing Olympics was replete with such contradictory episodes, the most famous of which involved the ``authorized'' protest zones. (As was widely reported around the world, the central government set aside zones for authorized demonstrations and protests during the Games, as a sign of its openness and international spirit; then, local security authorities turned down all requests for authorization and arrested some people who applied.) In my own case, I dealt frequently with government officials who were fully aware that (for no apparent reason) I had been denied a regular journalist visa and was working as a journalist in China on a variety of ``business'' and educational visas. The inconsistency was fine, as long as I wasn't otherwise in trouble. Of course central guidance does come down about media and Internet censorship; of course there is some coordination. My point is that outsiders sometimes miss the irregularity and oddities of the ``control'' system, which make press coverage both easier and harder. It is easier in that there is often a side door when the front door is closed. It is harder in that uncertainty about what might cause trouble leads people to be more careful than they might otherwise be. If you never know where the line is, you take care not to cross it. (2) The government is most successful in justifying its media controls when it positions them as defenses against foreign criticism of China as a whole. This approach is of course not unique to China or its government. But in my experience it is particularly important to bear in mind there, because the theme comes up so often in the foreign reporters' work within China and is always a potential factor. For reasons familiar to all of us, daily life in modern China doesn't naturally support strong feelings of nationalistic unity among the highly diverse and often fractious billion-plus people of the country. People are focused on their families, their businesses, they regional or local rivalries or ambitions. It is easiest to make people feel and at as ``we Chinese'' in response to the idea of being disrespected, unfairly treated, or victimized by the outside world. Again, unity in response to foreign challenge is hardly unique to China. But the role of the Western press is unusually important here, since in my experience it is one of the most reliable levers the government can pull to induce nationalistic solidarity. (The other reliable lever is anti-Japanese sentiment, but that's a problem of its own.) I believe that every foreign reporter working in China has had the experience of crossing a certain line in reaction from the Chinese public--especially from the ``netizen'' part of the public with recourse to blogs and email. If discussion of certain problems in China is seen as ``pro-Chinese,'' in the sense of helping Chinese people deal with local pollution issues (or unfair labor practices, or water shortages, etc.), that is fine. But at a certain point, discussion of problems can shift to being seen as ``anti-Chinese'' or, in the famous epithet, ``hurting the feelings of the Chinese people.'' This is obvious in starkest form in the organized effort against CNN because of its coverage of the Tibetan violence and the disruption of the Olympic torch relay. I believe awareness of potentially hostile and voluminous reaction from web-based fenqing, the much discussed ``angry youth,'' is somewhere in the consciousness of most foreign reporters working in China--along with the numerous friendships and supportive relationships most foreign reporters make with individual Chinese people. I mention this phenomenon because of the unusual public-private interaction it seems to represent. When web-based campaigns against foreign reporters or news organizations flare up in China, they seem genuinely to involve private individuals or informal bands of netizens. But clearly the government plays a crucial role in setting the conditions for this reaction: in its control of information and media, for instance in the educational program which gives nearly all citizens of the PRC the same understanding of the history of Tibet; in the version of the news that comes through the officials newspapers and broadcast channels; and in the ``hurting the feelings of the Chinese people'' denunciations it issues of the foreign media. The most recent illustration of this pattern is domestic discussion of the H1N1 ``swine flu'' issue. China's quarantine policy is far stricter than that of any other country, and out of line with what the WHO and other organizations have recommended. But I found that when I pointed this out in dispatches for the Atlantic, I was deluged with complaints from Chinese netizens about ``disrespect'' for a government that was being far more scrupulous with its public health preparations than was the lax Western world. In short, the Chinese public is highly intelligent, argumentative, eager to gain and exchange information. But it operates in circumstances that favor the government's ability to shunt the discussion away from criticism of its policies. (3) The spread of the Internet through China has made it both harder and easier for the government to keep discussion within limits it desires. I know that other witnesses intend to address this issue, and I discuss it at length in my ``Connection Has Been Reset'' article that I have submitted. I believe that the outside world is well past the period in which people automatically assumed that the spread of information technology would undermine authoritarian regimes. The additional point I'd made about press coverage is that the same dual aspect affects foreign reporters' work in the country. It is vastly easier to make connections and find information now, because of the Internet and related technology, than it was in the mid-1980s when I first worked in East Asia. But now reporters have the complication of knowing that their work is being read not simply by government minders but by large number of Chinese readers, some of whom know just enough English to misunderstand what a report is saying. This is a complex phenomenon that I'll be happy to discuss in other circumstances. There are many more aspects of this complex topic to examine. I am sorry not to be able to join you in person today, but I look forward to another opportunity.