The assault on a French journalist occurs at a time when Beijing authorities are tightening their grip on the media and the Internet, which has further narrowed the space available for those who seek solutions to the formidable challenges facing China
There’s a reason why China ranks No. 176 out of 180 countries in the Reporters Without Borders 2015 World Press Freedom Index, only better than Eritrea, North Korea, Turkmenistan and Syria. Its contempt for journalists, both domestic and foreign, who refuse to toe Beijing’s stridently nationalistic and increasingly paranoid line is boundless. A recent incident involving a French journalist highlights why China fully deserves the dishonor of being in the bottom five.
The controversy started with an article, published on Nov. 18, by Ursula Gauthier, a Beijing-based correspondent for the French news magazine L’Obs (formerly known as Le Nouvel Observateur). Titled “Après les attentats, la solidarité de la Chine n’est pas sans arrière-pensées” (“after the attacks, China has ulterior motives”), Gauthier’s article made the mistake — in Beijing’s eyes, that is — of pointing out the fundamental differences between the type of nihilistic international terrorism by the Islamic State that struck Paris last month and the local retributive violence that has flared occasionally in Xinjiang.
My article, published today on the CPI Blog at the University of Nottingham, continues here.