Xi Jinping's rule increases press restrictions in China

New York Times journalist claims media professionals in China face increasingly severe conditions

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Chinese leader Xi Jinping 

Chinese leader Xi Jinping  (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A New York Times journalist who covered events in China for seven years until his recent expulsion has spoken of the deteriorating media environment in the country under the rule of Xi Jinping (習近平).

Paul Mozur (孟寶勒), a technology correspondent who previously worked for the Wall Street Journal, revealed the erosions of press freedom he experienced in China. “Compared to Xi, the days under his predecessor Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) were arguably a golden era,” he said at an online symposium on Wednesday (June 3), held by the U.S.-Asia Law Institute of New York University School of Law, reported Radio Free Asia.

Journalists based in China used not to have as many restrictions as they do now, Mozur lamented, saying he was able to reach a number of prominent figures and politicians back then. Things have changed dramatically since Xi took over the reins from Hu, who ruled between 2002 and 2012.

When he returned to China about three years ago, the sight of the omnipresent CCTV cameras was unnerving, and it was not long before he noticed that he was being constantly followed by plainclothes police officers. He also reported an apartment break-in, which he said was evidence that he had been under surveillance by the Beijing authorities.

His woes were shared by Josh Chin (李肇華), the Wall Street Journal's deputy China bureau chief, who also attended the symposium. According to Chin, freedom of speech is dead in China under Xi. “Now I get nine out of 10 replies rejecting interviews when I call to request for a comment from an expert,” he said, a distinct break from the past when professional comments could be more easily obtained.

Beijing revoked the credentials of American journalists at three major US media outlets — New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal — in March, which effectively expelled them from China, in a tit-for-tat for the U.S. move to classify Chinese state media as foreign missions engaged in propaganda campaigns in February.

The measure prompted the New York Times to reassign some of its staff members to Taiwan, while the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal have also reportedly contacted the authorities on the matter.