It was seriously laughable when China claimed recently to have a new English version of its leading multilingual website ‘China Tibet Online’ (eng.tibet.cn) dedicated to Tibet-related topics, seeking to provide more coverage of the issues faced by ordinary Tibetans. Wei Wu, the so called deputy editor-in-chief of the 'China Tibet Online' claimed on Tuesday at a press conference held in Beijing.
And the real picture? Besides maintaining strong control of the media, the CCP authorities hope that the site would draw the world's attention."Our website aims to serve as a platform to provide a true picture of Tibet for people home and abroad. We hope that we can offer the English speakers a better experience when visiting our website," Wei claimed.
“China Tibet Information Center” is the curious name given to the website since July 8, 2010. The official also claims that it offers services in Chinese, English and Tibetan and over 260 million hits on its English page were recorded this year as of mid-December. One begins to wonder if Chinese media is as addictive as Facebook?
All media in China are owned by the state and remain strictly controlled by the Chinese Communist party (CCP), with tight censorship rules in place. The news media in Communist China has mostly focused on routine party meetings and activities and speeches of leaders. In 2008, just before Beijing Olympic, there has been a rare call for it to report truth and unbiased news and issues about topical, social, economic, cultural and health issues.
According to official figures, the agency employs 8,400 people. Agence France-Presse (AFP) by contrast has a staff of 2,000 of which 1,900 are journalists and editors. The president of the world's biggest propaganda agency, 'Xinhua' has a high ranking position in the CCP. The agency's news gathering and handling is broken up into three parts: "The headquarters" (its official name), national branches and international branches. It also has branches in 31 provinces, as well as in Tibet, Hong Kong and Macao. There are offices in around 50 Chinese cities.
Propaganda officials continue to send out instructions on how news should be handled, journalists must use euphemisms when reporting on sensitive topics such as issues of Tibet and Eastern Turkestan or not cover them at all. Like in Tibet most of the news media in China, operates under governmental control, and its releases reflect official policies and sister media also must strictly follow all regulations and rules published by the state controlled news agency, 'Xinhua'.
When there is a problem such as peaceful protests in Tibet, or disasters like earthquake in Kyigudo, the knee-jerk reaction of the government is to impose a news blackout. Central and local officials have close relations with those in charge of radio, newspapers and television stations based in Tibet and China and can block any news they don't want reported. So much news is blocked people are often poorly informed even about big stories that happened near high ranking officials.
Under Hu Jintao's rule in Tibet during the late 1980's and early 1990's, unthinkable acts of violence and destruction were carried out. Further, under the "Harmony Society" he instituted martial law and cracked down on the religious and other freedoms granted by the previous Chinese leader of Tibet. Now as the leader of China, Hu has continued to suppress human rights in Tibet, he has implemented policies and strategies to further the genocide.
If anything censorship and restrictions on the media have increased under the head of communist regime Hu Jintao when it comes to political issues in general and the Tibet issue in particular. Books have been banned, Internet sites have been shut down, journalists have been jailed in increasing numbers.
There are no freedom of information laws or freedom of the press in China and Tibet. If a magazine, newspapers, websites and individual blogs publish something the party doesn't like, the government can fire the editors, authors, writers and journalists and shut the newspaper or website down. The lack of freedom extends beyond the media. Respected Tibetan and Chinese professors, scholars and spiritual leaders have been banned from teaching or speaking and any famous literary critics have been banned from publishing for expressing unpopular views. Xinhua always remained a sole voice of the party.