Journalists and reporters employed by the media in the People’s Republic of China are said to number about 250,000. The Chinese government recently announced that in order to keep their accreditation they would be expected to undertake 18 or more hours of study and then undergo an examination.
The title of the course is “Reporting with View toward Marxism.”
Weekly Playboy (Nov 4) reports that in 2009, after incidents of unauthorized reporters and others claiming to be journalists became problematic, the Chinese government clamped down and began issuing official identification cards for journalists, who were obliged to undergo a qualification test to obtain one. The cards were valid for five years, upon which they could be automatically renewed upon application.
However, Weekly Playboy reports, when the cards come up for renewal in February 2014, this time the government is raising the barrier.
“In May of this year, a demonstration with 10,000 participants took place in Beijing, protesting the gang rape of a 22-year-old woman from Anhui Province,” explains author-journalist Daisuke Kondo. “The security agency attempted to pass it off as a suicide. Infuriated people from Anhui living in Beijing rioted. The real reason for the troubles was the widening gap between the rich and poor. People from poor provinces like Anhui are particularly dissatisfied with the system under leader Xi Jinping. I think the new guidelines are aimed at muzzling the media from negative reporting.”
But what’s keeping journalists from raising a ruckus over the government’s heavy-handed attempt to muzzle them? Kondo suggests the reason is probably money, as it seems journalism in China can be an “unexpectedly profitable occupation.”
“With the exception of the reporters at Xinhua and CCTV, which are basically government mouthpieces, ordinary news reporters virtually never approach the government,” he says. “The majority write about auto manufacturers and so on, and receive monetary gifts from the companies they report about.”
“So although their regular monthly wages are in the neighborhood of 80,000 Japanese yen, some reporters make enough money on the side to build homes worth 100 million yen,” Kondo adds.
Weekly Playboy was apparently in such a rush to scoop this story it missed out on the best part—- at least as far as Japan is concerned. That must be left to the Sankei Shimbun (Oct 20). It seems that among the information that Chinese journalists will be expected to follow Chinese government guidelines related to reporting about Japan, for which they are henceforth expected to assume a critical stance. Likewise for reportage about the U.S., which is “bent on undermining China.”
Among the sticking points regarding Japan that the scribes are expected to touch on are criticism of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s “right-leaning” administration. Nonetheless, terms like “kaisen” (outbreak of war) are to be eschewed as being overly inflammatory.
And within China, voices calling for freedom of the press or rule of law are also to be criticized. After all, according to the powers that be, those who raise such issues as basic human rights or democracy are actually “bent on attacking the teachings of China’s Communist Party.”
The examinations will be administered by the end of this year. Journalists receiving a failing grade will be obliged to retake the test.