China | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press



Freedom of the Press 2003

2003 Scores

Press Status

Not Free

Press Freedom Score
(0 = best, 100 = worst)


Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)


Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)


The government sharply restricts press freedom. A combination of statutes and directives forbid the media from promoting political reform, covering internal party politics or the inner workings of government, criticizing Beijing's domestic and international policies, or reporting financial data that the government has not released. All stories are potentially subject to prepublication censorship. However, authorities sometimes allow newspapers to report on corruption and other abuses by local officials. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, as of December 2002 Chinese jails held 36 journalists, 14 of whom were serving time for publishing or distributing information online. Other journalists have been harassed, detained, threatened, or dismissed from their jobs because of their reporting. Officials also have suspended or shut down some liberal magazines, newspapers, and publishing houses. While China's print media are both public and private, the government owns and operates all radio and television stations. The government promotes use of the Internet, but regulates access, monitors use, and restricts and regulates content. A number of Internet cafes were closed during the year, and the government temporarily blocked all access to the Google and AltaVista search engines in September before backing down and focusing instead on preventing searches on sensitive topics. In Hong Kong, an unlikely combination of pro-democracy activists and businessmen criticized proposed national security legislation that they said could undermine the territory's traditionally free press and uninhibited flow of information.