03/18/2016, 13.37
CHINA
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One more Chinese journalist goes missing: he had called on Xi Jinping to resign

Jia was supposed to fly to Hong Kong, but is now missing. No one knows his whereabouts. Two weeks ago, he had posted an open letter to China's president, accusing him of accumulating too much power. Censorship is increasingly resented even among Communists. A former reporter at Xinhua complains about too many banned items, and government departments with too much power, setting “themselves up as the arbiters of public opinion."

Beijing (AsiaNews) – After posting an open letter on a state-linked news site calling on President of China Xi Jinping to resign, Chinese journalist Jia Jia went missing as he was about to fly to Hong Kong.

His wife says she does not know what happened to him. She is quoted as saying that she last spoke to him at 8 pm local time on Tuesday, and he told her he was about to board the plane to Hong Kong. She added that her husband was due to stay at a friend's house but never arrived.

Jia’s lawyer, Yan Xin, told the BBC, "We don't have any clue who took him away and why . . . there is [a] great possibility that he was taken away from the airport." And "His wife has not received any official document on Jia Jia's whereabouts and status."

Mr Yan added that attempts to find Mr Jia's flight booking record had failed, and he and Mr Jia's wife were checking with immigration authorities.

Mr Jia had earlier told friends he believed something could happen to him because of the Xi Jinping letter, according to some reports.

The letter in question raised eyebrows when it appeared on the state-linked news site Watching, also known as Wujie News, on 4 March.

Addressed to Mr Xi, it called for him to step down, accusing him of gaining "excessive power" and creating a "personality cult", and ran through a list of criticism of his rule ranging from his diplomatic policies to economic decisions. It was written by "loyal Communist Party supporters".

A colleague at Watching also told the BBC that those involved with the letter's publication were "under investigation".

Jia Jia’s disappearance highlights once again the Chinese Communist Party’s growing appetite for censorship.

Beijing seems determined to silence any critical voice, including that of booksellers and publishers in Hong Kong, whose justice system is formally independent of the mainland.

Increasingly, foreign journalists are being expelled, and papers that do not follow the party line are the object of vendettas.

According to the great dissident Wei Jingsheng, China is going through a "Maoist revival" to hide the current leadership’s failures.

Zhou Fang, a former top investigative reporter at Xinhua, has also come out against the growing pressure on the media.

In an open letter to the National People’s Congress, he slammed government departments that “have completely disregarded the constitution and the principle of ruling by law in recent years,” and have instead “set themselves up as the arbiters of public opinion."

Asked by Radio Free Asia’s Mandarin Service if he was now under pressure from the authorities, he replied, "I'm sure you can imagine what happens in such situations."

A confidential document sent to state media before closing PNA confirms the Big Brother atmosphere.

The Communist Party's powerful Central Propaganda Department issued a 21-point directive to state media covering the National People’s Congress (NPC). The NPC met on March 5-15.

The leaked instructions orders the media to focus coverage on President Xi Jinping, who was recently given the title of ‘core leader’ like the late supreme leader Deng Xiaoping.

They also provide a list of banned topics, like smog, security measures for the NPC, the national defence budget, and the personal wealth or appearance of NPC staff or delegates.

Any reporting on corruption or on relations with Taiwan and North Korea must use syndicated copies from Xinhua, whilst "negative reports" online must be "strictly controlled".

Negative reporting on the stock market, foreign exchange, or property markets are also off-limits.

Likewise, Chinese media are not allowed to mention the overseas passports held by many delegates to the NPC and its advisory body.

It appears that these instructions were closely followed, and led to one of the most controlled (and vague) parliamentary sessions in decades.

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