China Requiring Secrecy Pledge for Press Credentials
In the latest in a series of measures tightening state control over the media, the Chinese government is requiring journalists to sign a secrecy agreement with their employers as a condition for obtaining press credentials.
China’s top media regulator, the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, said on Monday that the agreements would obligate the journalists “not to disclose any information acquired in the course of work, without permission from employers.” It also announced that for the first time it would issue credentials to journalists working for news websites.
The process of renewing credentials took effect on Tuesday and will end on Oct. 30. By then about 250,000 journalists are expected to obtain new credentials, according to Guangming Daily, a state-run newspaper.
The media agency oversees all Chinese journalists working in mainland China. Every five years since 1989, the administration has issued new press credentials, which Chinese journalists must have in order to attend many news conferences and to conduct interviews with government officials.
The agency’s supervision over journalists has increased significantly since Xi Jinping became China’s president in March 2013. In January, in preparation for issuing the new press credentials, the agency required all Chinese journalists to take anexam, which tasked the journalists with memorizing Chinese leaders’ comments about regulating the news media.
In April 2013, the media administration banned journalists from publishing online any information acquired while on the job unless they had clearance from their employers. And late last month it published a directive banning journalists from sharing information with foreign news agencies.
Chinese journalists, operating under strict censorship, sometimes pass information they cannot run in their own publications to foreign journalists or post the information online.
In May, Gao Yu, 70, a veteran Chinese journalist and longtime government critic, was detained on charges of leaking secret documents to a foreign website.