Saturday, May 25, 2024

World Press Day: China Censors Weibo Discussions

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World Press Freedom Day, observed annually on May 3rd, is a UN-designated day to highlight the importance of press freedom. It reminds governments to uphold their press freedom commitments, reflects on journalistic ethics, celebrates achievements, and honours journalists who have died in the line of duty. The day emphasises the crucial role of journalists in delivering information and the challenges they encounter in seeking truth and accountability.

While the topic of World Press Day was trending across various social media platforms around the globe, the situation on Weibo (often referred to as China’s X) presented a stark contrast, as discussions related to the day were censored in China.

The British Embassy in China courageously posted on Weibo “What would it be like if there was a Chinese newspaper that presented readers with a different perspective on media freedom and human rights issues?” (Screenshot below)

Swiss Embassy in China wrote in a post on Weibo “ As the world celebrates #WorldPressFreedomDay, we must emphasise the important work done by Swiss journalists in China. Despite facing challenges, they continue to provide valuable services that promote independent, diverse, and free news reporting.” (Screenshot below)

Nitin A Gokhale WhatsApp Channel

“Freedom of speech is the core of human beings and one of the important foundations of social security and prosperity,” wrote the Canada Embassy in China on Weibo.

Shortly after many embassies posted about World Press Day on Weibo, the authorities decided to censor the hashtag, limiting discussions about press freedom on the platform. This action prompted various comments, including one that stood out: “The domestic media have collectively lost their voice. It seems they also know they don’t deserve this commemorative day.” (Screenshot below)

This comment pointed out the irony that on World Press Day—a day meant to celebrate free journalism—Chinese media appeared to be silent, suggesting censorship. The commenter humorously suggested that the media might not truly “deserve” to celebrate a day dedicated to press freedom, reflecting a cynical view of press freedom in the country.

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