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As soon as Reporters Without Borders released its annual World Press Freedom Index this week, the Chinese Communist Party's propaganda department issued a directive banning its publication and dissemination.
"Although this measure is not surprising, coming as it does from one of the countries that control news and information the most, we firmly condemn this act of censorship," said Benjamin Ismaïl, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Asia-Pacific Desk.
"It is a perfect example of the Chinese government's policy of gagging the media and justifies China's position in the latest index, 175th out of 180 countries, a fall of two places from its position last year. We urge the authorities to withdraw this directive."
Issued by the State Council Information Office, the directive orders all media to suppress any article referring to the Reporters Without Borders press freedom index and to China's ranking in the bottom 10.
State Council Information Office: All websites are kindly asked to delete the article "180 Countries Ranked in 2013 Press Freedom Index; China at 175th" and related content.
Such directives from the Communist Party's censorship agencies are common and allow the authorities to keep news and information under close control. The varied range of censored subjects include human rights, corruption, the situation in the troubled far-west province of Xinjiang and environmental issues.
In April 2013, the General Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television issued a directive to the Chinese media containing a blanket ban on using any unauthorized information from foreign media and websites.
The new press freedom index, in which China is ranked 175th out of 180 countries, is available here.<br/>