If China really considers web surveillance “against human rights”, it must stop spying on journalists

As a senior Chinese official denounced web surveillance as “against human rights,” Reporters Without Borders (RSF) urges Beijing to prove its sincerity by ending monitoring on journalists and their sources.

According to China’s mouthpiece Xinhua News Agency, the Chinese special representative at the UN’s Human Rights Council, Liu Hua, stated on March 5th that electronic surveillance is a “violation of human rights,” especially with respect to “privacy” and “free speech.” This unusual statement came just days after a Chinese cybersecurity company reportedly uncovered an 11-year long CIA electronic surveillance campaign against Chinese interests.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) urges the Chinese authorities to prove its sincerity by ending surveillance on journalists and their sources, which it has been practicing on a massive scale within its borders and also in the world.

“The Beijing regime shows outrageous hypocrisy in pretending that it is interested in human rights while in practice it tramples them on a daily basis,” says Cédric Alviani, the head of Reporters Without Borders’ (RSF) East Asia desk, who pointed out that "Beijing's Internet surveillance policy poses a serious threat to journalists and their sources.”

China leads the world in mass electronic surveillance and is expected to reach an unprecedented ratio of one CCTV camera for every two people by 2022. Chinese-style surveillance is becoming a global threat as this technology, which includes artificial intelligence and facial recognition, is sold to a growing number of countries.

In a report titled "China's Pursuit of a New World Media Order" published last year, RSF revealed Beijing's strategy to control information beyond its borders, a project that poses a threat to press freedom throughout the world.

China is ranked 177th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index.