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New reprisals by Beijing against Chinese media

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Reporters Without Borders (RSF) regards a temporary ban on reposting articles from the Caixin Media website, Caixin Online, as not only arbitrary but also a flagrant violation of the Chinese constitution.

Issued this week by the Chinese authorities, the ban prohibits other Chinese websites from republishing content from the Beijing-based Caixin website for two months. According to US-based China Digital Times, the banning order said : "Over the past year, Caixin Online has repeatedly violated news and propaganda discipline and published reports with problematic orientations whose republication elsewhere has had a seriously negative influence."

Last week, Caixin published an open letter signed by 168 lawyers objecting to a new ban on their defending their clients by means of online articles or public protests. The letter was removed from the website shortly after it was posted.

“By censuring a report about this protest by human rights lawyers, who are themselves now banned for talking about their clients’ cases in the media or on the street, the circle of censorship has been completed,” said Benjamin Ismaïl, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk. "The reprisals against this respected publication and the ban on lawyers informing the public via the media about violations of their clients' basic rights show that the regime is cracking down in an unprecedented manner. The international community must react without delay, or else watch China sink ever deeper into dictatorship."

The Caixin Media group, which includes a business weekly and other publications as well as Caixin Online, specializes in providing business and financial news but is also known for expressing liberal views and for criticizing the communist government. It was founded in 2010 by Hu Shuli, a pioneer of investigative journalism in China who has had considerable experience of government censorship over the years. She used to edit Caijing Magazine, which was repeatedly suspended because of articles regarded by the government or "private" sector leaders as overly critical.

Chinese President Xi Jiping is on RSF’s list of press freedom predators while China is ranked 176th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2016 World Press Freedom Index.

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