Mr Hu Jintao
President of the Peoples’ Republic of China
9 January 2013
We are writing on behalf of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) and the World Editors Forum, which represent 18,000 publications, 15,000 online sites and over 3,000 companies in more than 120 countries, to express our serious concern at the censorship of a pro-reform editorial due to be published by the Southern Weekly, and to call for the granting of quicker journalistic accreditation to foreign correspondents.
According to reports, on 3 January state censors blocked a pro-reform article in the Guangdong-based Southern Weekly newspaper calling for the realisation of a "dream of constitutionalism in China" to protect people’s rights. The offending article was removed by censors after the magazine was closed and being readied for printing. The censorship has led to the publication of a critical open letter from staff, calls for strike action and demonstrations outside the newspaper’s offices.
This follows the New York Times correspondent Chris Buckley being forced to leave mainland China on 31 December 2012 after a three-and-a-half-month delay in processing his journalistic accreditation. No explanation was given for the delay, although concerns have been raised that it might be in response to recent articles appearing in the New York Times concerning Premier Wen Jiabao and his family. More than 20 other foreign correspondents have had to wait for more than four months for accreditation and the New York Times Beijing bureau chief, Philip Pan, has been waiting for more than nine months.
We respectfully call on you to take all necessary steps to ensure that Southern Weekly is permitted to publish the blocked editorial and that the culture of state censorship is ended. We also request that you ensure that accreditation for Mr Buckley and other foreign journalists is processed quickly and efficiently.
We look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.
World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers
World Editors Forum
WAN-IFRA is the global organization for the world’s newspapers and news publishers, with formal representative status at the United Nations, UNESCO and the Council of Europe. The organization groups 18,000 publications, 15,000 online sites and over 3,000 companies in more than 120 countries.
cc Vice-President of the Peoples’ Republic of China, The Honourable Xi Jinping