Zhao Xinwei, the editor in chief of a state-run newspaper in China, has been fired for “airing views in opposition to the government and ‘groundlessly commenting’ on official policies,” according to The Wall Street Journal’s Te-Ping Chen.
Zhao, who oversaw the Xinjiang Daily, held views on “separatism, terrorism and religious extremism” that ran counter to those espoused by the People’s Republic of China, according to The Wall Street Journal:
It was unclear what views Mr. Zhao had aired, and in what context, to occasion the government’s response. The discipline inspection commission said simply that Mr. Zhao had made decisions in opposition to propaganda orders—regularly issued to the media by government authorities—in the course of his work.
The ouster is an indicator of worsening press freedom conditions in China, which in August amended a law to further punish those who would “[Disrupt] social stability” by “spreading false rumors on the Internet,” according to Hong Kong Free Press.
The Committee to Protect Journalists, which rates China among the 10 most censored countries globally, put the latest strictures in line with governmental policies intended to “rein in online reporting and sharing of information on social media.”
Among foreign correspondents in China, the prevailing opinion of press freedom remains low. More than 90 percent of correspondents who participated in a May survey evaluating restrictions in the country said working conditions in China are “almost never” on par with international standards. In that same survey, taken before China strengthened punishments for rumor mongering, nearly half of correspondents said that press freedom in the country was holding steady from year to year.
The new rules come more than a year after Xi Jinping, the president of China, made foreboding statements related to the free flow of Western correspondents to and from the country. In a November news conference with President Obama, Xi hinted that critical coverage from foreign reporters was to blame for the country’s stalled visa application process.