Chinese authorities are tightening their control of the media and continuing to put those who resist censorship behind bars. Most recently, Chen Shuqing, a Chinese rights activist, was reportedly sentenced to four years in jail after being charged with subversion for posting politically sensitive essays on the Internet. His lawyer, Li Jianqiang, called the sentence "totally unreasonable," saying Mr. Chen "was only expressing his opinion and that is within his rights under the constitution." Mr. Li has also come under fire by Chinese authorities for defending rights activists. He was notified in June that his license to practice law had been suspended for at least one year.
The free press monitoring group Reporters Without Borders condemned the sentence and reiterated its appeal "for the release of Chen and the other fifty cyber-dissidents and Internet users held in China."
Journalist Qi Chonghuai and freelance photographer Ma Shiping were also reportedly arrested in June for exposing corruption in the Tengzhou city Communist party. Reporters Without Borders has stated that at least thirty-two journalists are in prison in China. They include New York Times researcher Zhao Yan, who is serving a three-year sentence for alleged fraud.
The United States is concerned about the recent increase in arrests and detentions of Chinese journalists and rights activists who express their views on the internet. U.S. government officials regularly raise human rights issues with the Chinese government. The State Department's annual China human rights reports have noted China's well-documented abuses of human rights in violation of internationally recognized norms, stemming both from the authorities' intolerance of dissent and the inadequacy of legal safeguards for basic freedoms. As U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte said, the Chinese government "needs to respect its citizens' right to speak, assemble, and publish. . . .free of coercion."