It is no secret that China has a censorship problem.
Just this week, the Communist regime effectively expelled a Wall Street Journal reporter after he had written a lengthy story in which the allegations against the cousin of Chinese leader Xi Jinping, who is in Australia because of potential money laundering, have been described in detail.
Chun Han Wong, a Singaporean working for the Journal since 2014, applied for renewal of his press card at the end of last month, but the Chinese government assigned one month to the Journal After Wong coauthored the report on Ming Chai, a naturalized Australian blood relative of Xi, he did not give Wong's visa. Wong has until Friday to leave the country.
The government made no statement to the paper, however, later informed the Washington Post that it would not tolerate reporters harming its reputation. And, as the Post states, no issue is more taboo in China than the private wealth and dealings of the Communist Party's leaders, "in the face of the rift between the ideological rhetoric of the Communist Party and the enormous, often hidden wealth elite families since the party turned to state capitalism in the 1
Before the Journal published Wong's report, Chinese ministerial officials warned that the newspaper, writing further on Xi's private life, would be left undocumented but serious consequences.
"We strongly oppose some foreign reporters maliciously attacking China, and we do not welcome such reporters," the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Given Xi's public image as a leader willing to wage war against party corruption, it is no wonder he does not want his own relative's cronyism to be associated with him again. The routine expulsion of journalists by the party in connection with the consolidation of power by Xi is however a sign of the return to a more authoritarian era in China.
China's relationship with the press has always been tense, but it is worsening. Several journalists were banned from the country, including BuzzFeed News reporter Megha Rajagopalan, who reported in detail on the routine detention of Muslims in the country's western Xinjiang region. Entire news agencies were also banned, including Bloomberg News in 2012, when a report was released exposing the Xi family's investments.
So far, China's censorship has had little impact on the outside world. Their suppression has remained largely internal. Xi has limited access to information in his own country, which is slowly getting the daily lives of his citizens under control. Social media is monitored and Internet firewalls prevent users from accessing foreign reports about the inner workings of the Chinese Communist Party unless they have access to a working VPN. As Xi's antics continue to increase, the foreign press in China will be overtaken and China's citizens will lose all access to the outside world. It seems like Xi is taking notes from his neighbor, Kim Jong Un.