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Neither the sender nor the recipient is ever likely to know anything was censored. Using optical character recognition, the image is examined for text sending screen shots of newspaper articles was once an easy way past censors.

The image is then checked for visual similarity to other censored images. So-called harmful content—including anything about international or domestic politics deemed undesirable by the Chinese Communist Party—will be sniffed out, removed from the conversation, and then added to that original hash index, which flags it for instant censorship from that moment onward. Inside of China, it is part of the larger trend under Xi Jinping of tightening controls on the Chinese internet and society more broadly.

WeChat is so pervasive in China that the prospect of getting suspended or banned can disrupt lives. The app combines the features of Facebook, Uber, GrubHub, and more. In addition to deadly historical events like the Tiananmen Square protests and the Cultural Revolution, new events are quickly added.

The collective punishment of families was particularly striking in the case of five US-based Radio Free Asia Uyghur Service journalists. Media reports in February said their relatives in Xinjiang have been detained in retaliation for their journalism about the region. Authorities in Tibetan areas continue to severely restrict religious freedom, speech, movement, and assembly, and fail to redress popular concerns about mining and land grabs by local officials, which often involve intimidation and arbitrary violence by security forces.

Authorities intensified surveillance of online and phone communications. There were clear findings by UN human rights experts that the charges were baseless. Nonetheless, courts sentenced former political prisoner Tsegon Gyal in January to three years in prison and language activist Tashi Wangchuk in May to five years. Several hundred Tibetans traveling on Chinese passports to India for a January teaching by the Dalai Lama were forced to return early when officials in Tibetan areas threatened retaliation against those traveling abroad and their family members back home.

Intensified political education has been reported in monasteries and schools, and for the public at large. Tibetan authorities have used a nationwide anti-crime campaign to encourage people to denounce members of their communities on the slightest suspicion of sympathy for the exiled Dalai Lama or opposition to the government. Several more cases were reported in of land grabs by local officials for construction projects, both in the Tibet Autonomous Region and other Tibetan areas.

In Driru county, 30 villagers were detained in May for allegedly sharing with international media information about the arrest of a village leader who had led popular opposition to a mining project on a sacred mountain.

Why is South Korea Censoring the Internet? - VisualPolitik EN

Tibetans continue to self-immolate to protest Chinese policies; four more such protests took place between November and time of writing. In , the MeToo movement gained momentum in China as a slew of prominent academics, journalists, and activists were accused on social media of sexual misconduct. After a prominent state media TV host and a senior Buddhist monk at a government-controlled temple were accused of sexual harassment, censors deleted social media posts about those cases.

In June, China University of Petroleum authorities held Ren Liping, a student who had accused an ex-boyfriend of raping her on campus, for six days in a hotel room after she protested against the university and police for mishandling her allegations. While women in China may be more willing to speak out against sexual harassment, seeking legal redress is still very difficult. Chinese law prohibits sexual harassment, but its failure to define the term makes meaningful legal action nearly impossible.

By James Harkin

Women continue to face widespread discrimination in the job market. In the national civil service job list, 19 percent specified a requirement or preference for men, up from 13 percent from the previous year. Technology giants including Alibaba and Tencent pledged to ensure gender equality in their recruitment. As China faces an unprecedented sex ratio imbalance and aging population, authorities promoted traditional roles for women, encouraging them to marry early and have children.

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How China mastered the art of academic censorship

In March, social media platforms Weibo and WeChat permanently suspended the accounts of Feminist Voices, a social media publication run by outspoken feminists. While China decriminalized homosexuality in , it lacks laws protecting people from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, and same-sex partnership is not legal. Weibo subsequently dropped the restriction. A gay teacher in September filed a suit against his former school, alleging that he was fired because he posted information on social media about a lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender LGBT -themed event that he had attended.


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China continued to arrest and forcibly return hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of North Koreans, who Human Rights Watch considers refugees sur place, to North Korean state security services, who has long tortured, sexually abused, and imprisoned them. Beijing refused to consider fleeing North Koreans as refugees and would not grant UNHCR access to them or areas on the North Korea-China border, further violating its obligations as a party to the Refugee Convention.

The resolution was adopted by a comfortable margin with the US as the only no vote. Throughout the year, members of the US Congress and the administration called for sanctions and export controls. In July, Germany secured the release of Liu Xia. Sweden did not secure the release of bookseller Gui Minhai; Australia adopted new laws to counter Chinese political interference at home, but took few meaningful steps to challenge the root cause of political repression in China.

However, new UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, the Committee to Eliminate Racial Discrimination, and the assistant secretary-general for human rights expressed concern particularly about Xinjiang and abuses of human rights defenders. China continues to use its permanent seat on the UN Security Council to block important discussions of human rights issues. In October , it circulated a letter expressing its opposition to the "internationalization" of efforts to address the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar and its opposition has stymied stronger Security Council action to react to the crisis.

Some governments, including Myanmar and Malaysia, backed away from previously agreed bilateral investment arrangements, citing unsustainable debt and concerns about sovereignty. Leadership : Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has been supreme leader since Hassan Rouhani has been president since August How censorship works : The government uses mass and arbitrary detention as a means of silencing dissent and forcing journalists into exile. Iran became the world's leading jailer of journalists in and has ranked among the world's worst jailers of the press every year since.

Iranian authorities maintain one of the toughest Internet censorship regimes in the world, blocking millions of websites, including news and social networking sites. They are suspected of using sophisticated techniques , such as setting up fake versions of popular websites and search engines, and the regime frequently jams satellite signals. The situation for the press has not improved under Rouhani despite the hopes of U. Rouhani also failed to uphold his campaign promise to reinstate the 4,member Association of Iranian Journalists, which was forced to close in Lowlight : Iranian authorities control coverage of certain topics by tightening the small circle of journalists and news outlets allowed to report on them.

The newspaper, which supports former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, had published four articles that criticized Iran's international nuclear negotiations and alleged corruption in the government's dealing with an oil company. How censorship works : For more than a decade, China has been among the top three jailers of journalists in the world, a distinction that it is unlikely to lose any time soon.

Document 9 , a secret white paper dated April 22, , which was widely leaked online and to the international press, included the directive to "combat seven political perils" and reject the concept of "universal values" and the promotion of "the West's view of media. The paper reasserted the necessity for China's technological and human censors to be ever more vigilant when keeping watch over the country's million Internet users-about 22 percent of the world's online population. In late November , Xu Xiao, a poetry and arts editor for the Beijing-based business magazine Caixin , was detained on suspicion of "endangering national security.

International journalists trying to work in China have faced obstacles , with visas delayed or denied. Although some visa restrictions between the U. President Barack Obama in November Xi argued that international journalists facing visa restrictions had brought the trouble on themselves. Lowlight : Gao Yu, one of 44 journalists behind bars in China, was detained on charges of illegally providing state secrets abroad, days after details of Document 9 appeared in Mirror Monthly , a Chinese-language political magazine in New York.

Gao, 70, confessed on official state broadcaster CCTV, but during her closed trial, on November 21, , she said that the confession was false and made only to prevent her son from being threatened and harassed, her lawyer said. Leadership : President Thein Sein, a former general, has led a quasi-civilian administration since How censorship works : Despite an end to more than four decades of pre-publication censorship in , Myanmar's media remains tightly controlled.

The Printers and Publishers Registration Law, enacted in March , bans news that could be considered insulting to religion, disturbing to the rule of law, or harmful to ethnic unity. Publications must be registered under the law, and those found in violation of its vague provisions risk de-registration. National security-related laws, including the colonial-era Official Secrets Act, are used to threaten and imprison journalists who report on sensitive military matters.

For example , five journalists with the independent weekly newspaper Unity were sentenced to 10 years in prison with hard labor, reduced on appeal to seven years, for reporting on a secretive military facility allegedly involved in chemical weapons production. Journalists are regularly barred from reporting from the military side of conflict with ethnic groups. Aung Kyaw Naing , a local freelance reporter who had embedded with rebel forces, was shot dead while in military custody in October after being apprehended by government troops in a restive area near the Thailand-Myanmar border.

Lowlight : Three journalists and two publishers of the independent newspaper Bi Mon Te Nay were sentenced to two years in prison on charges of defaming the state. Their offense: publishing a false statement made by a political activist group that claimed that pro-democracy opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and ethnic group leaders had formed an interim government to replace Thein Sein's administration.

How censorship works :Despite significant improvements in the past few years-such as the elimination of exit visas that had prohibited most foreign travel for decades-Cuba continues to have the most restricted climate for press freedom in the Americas. The print and broadcast media are wholly controlled by the one-party Communist state, which has been in power for more than half a century and, by law , must be "in accordance with the goals of the socialist society.

Independent journalists and bloggers who work online use websites that are hosted overseas and must go to foreign embassies or hotels to upload content and get an unfiltered connection to the Internet. These critical blogs and online news platforms are largely inaccessible to the average Cuban, who still has not benefited from a high-speed Internet connection financed by Venezuela.

Most Cubans do not have Internet at home. The government continues to target critical journalists through harassment, surveillance, and short-term detentions.

10 Most Censored Countries - Committee to Protect Journalists

She was later declared innocent and freed. Visas for international journalists are granted selectively by officials. The writer and other local independent journalists maintain that he was targeted in retaliation for writing critically about the government on his blog, Los Hijos que Nadie Quiso The Children Nobody Wanted.

Methodology : The list of 10 most censored countries is based on CPJ research, as well as the expertise of the organization's staff. Countries are measured with the use of a series of benchmarks, including the absence of privately owned or independent media, blocking of websites, restrictions on electronic recording and dissemination, license requirements to conduct journalism, restrictions on journalists' movements, monitoring of journalists by authorities, jamming of foreign broadcasts, and blocking of foreign correspondents.


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  • Top photo: Journalists in Myanmar cover their mouths with tape in protest at the country's poor record of press freedom after the arrest of four journalists and the chief executive of the newspaper, Unity. Toggle navigation Committee to Protect Journalists. Eritrea 2.

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    North Korea 3. Saudi Arabia 4. Ethiopia 5. Azerbaijan 6. Vietnam 7. Iran 8. China 9. Myanmar An Eritrean walks by the office of the country's sole Internet provider in Asmara. The government controls the Internet and all media in Eritrea, creating a restrictive environment for the press. Eritrea Leadership : President Isaias Afewerki, in power since There has been little improvement for press freedom under the leadership of Kim Jung Un, pictured at a cartoon studio in an undated photograph released by North Korea's official news agency KCNA in November