“The harsh reality of the press in China that kicked me out”

It was reminiscent of the harsh reality of reporting in China until the end.

When my family scrambled the airport (not ready for the last minute packing), we were watched by the plainclothes police outside our house.

Indeed, China’s propaganda machines are at full throttle, denying that I faced risks in China and at the same time fully revealing those risks.

The Communist Party ruled the Global Times, saying, “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it was unaware that Sadworth was under threat, but he could be sued by an individual in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region for his sneaky reports. There is. “

The chilling effect of such a statement lies in the implementation of a media-like court system as an extension of the Communist Party, with the idea that independent judiciary was dismissed as a “wrong Western concept.”

China’s Foreign Ministry continues to attack, using the podium at its daily press conference on Thursday to criticize what is called the BBC’s “fake news.”

Played a video clip from Recent interview with Volkswagen in China The decision to run a car factory in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region suggests that this is “a report that causes anger for the Chinese people.”

Of course, that’s an unlikely claim, given that the majority of Chinese can’t see our report, which has been blocked for a long time.

But while all of this led my post to a hectic and horrifying end, it’s worth remembering. I’m the latest in a long line of foreign media in recent years..

And China’s battle for ideas and information over the global space is part of a much larger battle.

Media becomes a battlefield

“Economic freedom creates a habit of freedom,” former US President Bush once said in a speech encouraging China to accept the World Trade Organization (WTO).

“And the habit of freedom creates expectations for democracy,” he continued.

When I started working here in 2012, the starry sky assumption that China would become free as it became richer was still frequently heard in Chinese news analysis and academic discussions.

However, I am of the arrival of the year, the prediction was matched with the progress made so completely visible to the naive – was appointed to the most powerful job in 習近 Xiaoping is the general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party in Japan.

The large screen, Xi Jinping China President has attended the closing session of the Beijing national conference was held in China (NPC) will appear in the March 11, 2021.

Xi Jinping Jintao of China, since taking office 10 years ago, has been to strengthen the control of society.

While major changes in global trade patterns over the years have undoubtedly changed China and unleashed a whirlwind of economic and social change, their expectations for democracy are more distant than ever.

President West has used China’s already rigorous political system to strengthen control over almost every aspect of society. Ten years after his current unlimited tenure, the media landscape has emerged as the decisive battlefield.

“Document number 9” -High-level leaks reportedly-identified early on in the battle’s main target: “Western values,” including press freedom.

And, as the BBC’s experience shows, Foreign journalism revealing the truth about the situation in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Question Handling of Chinese coronavirus and its origin, Or Call out to opponents of Hong Kong’s authoritarian program, Now it’s a solid launch line.

Undermine democratic debate

However, it is also worth noting that foreign social media networks are widely used to amplify messages as China’s propaganda attacks continue after my departure.

Ironically, of course, while the space for foreign journalism is shrinking in China, the Communist Party is making the most of easy access to free and open media and investing heavily in foreign media strategies. I am doing.

That “wolf warrior” Diplomats unleash a fierce storm of tweetsCondemn foreign reports, with a centralized and coordinated strategy across multiple platforms, as documented by this-denying their own citizens access to those very same foreign platforms. While doing- Report by researchers at the International Cyber ​​Policy Center of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute..

National media advertisers publish and post content abroad without restrictions, but China mercilessly shuts down independent coverage domestically, censors foreign broadcasts and websites, and owns foreign journalists. Block from social media networks.

In this context, my departure can be seen as part of a new, highly asymmetrical battle for control of ideas.

The free flow of good, accurate information is not a happy outlook.

Decreased access undermines our ability to understand what is really happening in China, while at the same time using the power of free media to undermine democratic debate everywhere. ..

Footprints leading to the truth

There is no easy answer, and President Bush’s predictive idealism has long disappeared, but there is room for hope.

Much of the information revealed in recent years The truth of what is happening in Xinjiang It is based on China’s own internal documents and publicity reports, even though China dismissed it as a “counterfeit.”

In the implementation of mass imprisonment systems, modern digital superpowers have no choice but to keep their footprints online, so important journalistic efforts to uncover them will continue from afar.

I have an increasing number of foreign correspondents being forced to take up the story of China from Taipei, Asia and other cities.

John Sudworth in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region

John Sudworth (shown here) and his team were tracked on a trip to Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in late 2020 and the footage was removed.

And, of course, there are brave and determined members of China’s foreign media outlets who continue to commit to telling stories while the numbers are declining.

Most notably, within the strictness of political control, there are also a few extraordinary Chinese citizens who are at very personal risk. Find a way to avoid censorship to do the most important work in journalism Anywhere-Tell the story of their country in their own words.

Much of what we know about the early days of the Wuhan blockade came from these citizen journalists who are paying the price of their courage today.

At the departure hall of Beijing Airport, you can leave the plainclothes police for the last time I want.

It must be remembered that it is the Chinese people who continue to face the greatest risks in telling the truth in the battle for new global ideas.