A court in Beijing has rejected the appeal of imprisoned Hong Kong journalist Ching Cheong. Mr. Ching, chief China correspondent for the Straits Times, a Singapore newspaper, had been sentenced to five years in prison. He was arrested by Chinese authorities in 2005, supposedly for selling secret documents to agents from Taiwan.
According to news reports, Mr. Ching, working as a journalist, was collecting documents related to purged Chinese Communist leader Zhao Ziyang. Chinese authorities held Mr. Ching for almost a year before trying him in secret and announcing a sentence.
As documented in the U.S. State Department’s annual human rights report, Chinese journalists who report on politically sensitive topics risk harassment, detention, and imprisonment. More than eighty print and Internet journalists are currently imprisoned in China, a number of them for violating China's vague secrecy laws. These laws permit materials not identified as secret, including published media accounts, to be retroactively classified and then used against journalists.
The United States has raised its concerns about Mr. Ching’s case with Chinese authorities, both in Washington and in Beijing.
Freedom of the press is a fundamental and universally recognized right. The U.S. views any attempt to restrict the free flow of information with great concern and as incompatible with China’s aspirations to build an information-based economy governed by the rule of law.
As President George W. Bush has said, "by meeting the legitimate demands of its citizens for freedom and openness, China's leaders can help their country grow into a modern and prosperous nation."
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.