The renewal of Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s mandate will allow him to carry on his crusade against journalism, RSF says

As the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party has granted Chinese leader Xi Jinping with a third mandate as General Secretary, RSF unveils figures that show the extent of the crusade against journalism he has been leading over the past ten years. 

“The extension of Xi Jinping’s mandate, if confirmed, is disturbing news for press freedom as it will allow the Chinese leader to carry on the crusade against journalism he set in motion ten years ago,” says RSF East Asia Bureau Head Cédric Alviani, who calls on democracies to “employ all necessary means to dissuade the Chinese leader from disseminating his dystopian model of society based on censorship, propaganda and surveillance.

In the coming days, the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party is expected to grant Chinese leader Xi Jinping a third five-year mandate as General Secretary, allowing him to further extend the crusade against journalism he initiated ten years ago. Under the guise of a crackdown on “online rumours” and “vulgar contents”, the new leader turned press freedom predator quickly tightened control of the Chinese state media, which are now expected to “reflect the Party’s will,” while initiating a violent clampdown on non-professional journalists and applying unprecedented censorship and surveillance online.

115 journalists and press freedom defenders detained

Xi’s China is the world’s biggest captor of media workers and press freedom defenders with over 115 detained, often in conditions that pose a threat to their lives. Journalists whose reports don’t fit the regime’s narrative are routinely being held in “black jails” where they are deprived of their rights and face the risk of being tortured. 

3 press freedom defenders dead in prison

Xi Jinping is to be held personally responsible for the mistreatment that led to the death of Nobel Peace Prize laureate and RSF Press Freedom Prize winner Liu Xiaobo and political commentator Yang Tongyan in 2017, as well as the death of key Tibetan news source Kunchok Jinpa in February 2021.

94 ranks downfall for Hong Kong in the RSF Index

Xi's pressure on the Hong Kong government also led to an unprecedented deterioration of press freedom in the special administrative region. Since 2012, Hong Kong dropped 94 ranks in RSF’s World Press Freedom Index, currently ranking 148th out of 180.

7 media outlets closed within 2 years in Hong Kong

In the past two years alone, Xi’s regime used the enactment of a National Security Law as a pretext to prosecute at least 23 press freedom defenders in the former British colony and shut down major independent media outlets Apple Daily and Stand News, while the climate of fear confronting Hong Kong journalists led to at least five smaller media outlets to cease their operations. 

1,000,000,000 netizens under surveillance 

By relying on the extensive use of new technology, Xi has imposed a social model based on censorship, propaganda and surveillance. The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), an entity personally supervised by Xi, prevents China's one billion internet users from freely receiving and imparting independent information.

149 countries infected by China’s dystopian media model 

Through an international development project called the Belt and Road Initiative which has been supported in 149 countries, Xi’s China pursues a “new world media order” in which journalism is not intended to be a counter-power but rather used to disseminate state propaganda. As part of this project, the Chinese regime encourages authoritarian governments to strengthen control over the media and internet and provide them with the necessary technical and regulatory means to achieve this goal, therefore posing a direct threat to journalism and democracy around the world.

In 2021, RSF published an unprecedented investigative report entitled ‘The Great Leap Backwards of Journalism in China’, which reveals the extent of Beijing’s campaign against journalism and the right to information worldwide. 

China ranks 175th out of 180 in the 2022 RSF World Press Freedom Index.