Chinese National People's Congress begins (March 5)
No free media, no criticism (Press Release)
Next Friday, March 5, will mark the beginning of the 13th National People's Congress in Beijing, in the course of which the country's Communist Party leadership will once again congratulate itself on its economic successes. Critical voices will not be heard, as – according to the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) – media freedom in China has suffered massively since the last People's Congress. "China's President Xi Jinping has consolidated his power to such an extent that he does not have to fear any headwind, neither from within the country nor from China's numerous trading partners," stated Jasna Causevic, STP expert on genocide prevention and the Responsibility to Protect. "He is taking advantage of this situation – in order to suppress ethnic and religious minorities and to prevent foreign media from reporting freely."
According to the organization Reporters Without Borders, more than 100 media workers are currently detained in China. Most of them belong to the ethnic group of the Uyghurs. Further, many foreign reporters have already been expelled from the country. "In recent years, the government has also continued to expand its system of censorship and intimidation. Thus, public employees are fired if they dare to make critical statements – and forced confessions of alleged wrongdoings are broadcast on Chinese domestic and foreign TV channels," Causevic criticized. Under these circumstances, the government is able to meet its ambitious economic goals through comprehensive forced labor.
An estimated 1.6 million members of the Uyghur, Kazakh, and Kyrgyz people are or were imprisoned in the re-education camp system, which was established in 2017. "In recent years, it has been expanded into a system of forced labor, also in the textile sector," Causevic added. "This allows people to be monitored even after they are 'released' from the camps." A similar system of forced labor has now also been established in Tibet, and more than half a million people are working there against their will. "In the course of the decades of oppression of the Tibetan people, China's government has learned that it can get away with virtually anything," Causevic said. "So far, all it has to do is to keep the economy running and to silence critical voices. The Western world must ask itself how much longer it will silently accept the cultural genocide of minorities and nationalities in China."