Eine abschreckende Wirkung

A chilling effect, what Chinese censorship has on news reporting and book publishing.

Australian media have reported that it looks like Chinese authorities will not renew the visas of foreign journalists working for the New York Times and Bloomberg, set to expire at the end of 2013. This will require those journalists and their families, including children in school, to leave the country very suddenly, while having a chilling effect on all other international writing about China because yet again the authorities have not named their reasons for this move, leaving people guessing and self-censoring while denying they’re self-censoring.

I feel a qualm now when typing the names of journalists whose work I’m citing. Will my attempt to credit their good work create search engine results that imperil their future efforts to help explain a country as important and interesting as China?

Writers talking about not writing about China oscillate between drawing conclusions about censorship causes that they then decide are obvious, and saying you can’t know. But it does seem some officials there dislike reporting about corruption and vast accumulations of family capital. Corruption would also not be a reason you’d want to cite for refusing to renew journalist visas.

Update on 30 Jan 2014: After ten years reporting in China, Austin Ramzy switched from Time Magazine to the NYTimes in April 2013 and was forced to leave the country this month when he was denied a new press card, meaning his journalist’s visa could not be renewed. Spiegel.de reported that NYTimes and Bloomberg are unable to fill empty posts in their China bureaus.

(Eye nah   OB shreck en dah   VEERK oong.)

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