Number of Licensed Journalists in China Declined by 27.4 Percent in the Last Decade

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Under the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)’s censorship and tight control, the number of China’s licensed journalists is dwindling.

Between mid-January and late April, the State Administration of Press and Publications organized the annual press card verification. Chinese reporters were required to take a test as part of the renewal process. State-run Xinhua News Agency recently reported that as of April 30, a total of 3,676 news outlets and 180,075 journalists in China had passed the renewal, while 24 news outlets and 353 journalists had their press credentials suspended.

On May 16, the All-China Journalists Association released its Report on the Development of Journalism in China. As of December 2021, there were 194,263 journalists in China with valid press cards, the report said.

A comparison between the two reports shows that 14,188 journalists, or 7.3 percent, did not pass the annual verification.

Having a press card is the only legal way for news gathering and editing in China. According to regulations of the State Press and Publication Administration, the press card is renewed every 5 years and must be verified every year. Those who fail to pass the verification will have their press cards canceled; those who engage in reporting activities under the guise of news organizations, or “fake” news reporters, will be fined up to 30,000 yuan (approx. $4,500) and may be criminally charged.

In November 2012, China had 248,101 licensed journalists. Five years later, 228,327 remained. Today there are only 180,075 left. In just a decade, the number decreased by 68,026, or 27.4 percent.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF), an international non-governmental organization, said in May this year that more than 120 journalists are currently imprisoned in China, making China the biggest jailer of reporters in the world.

On May 3, RSF released this year’s World Press Freedom Index rankings. Among the 180 countries and regions in the world, China ranks 175th, not far off from Iran and North Korea rankings, and lower than Syria and Venezuela.

RSF pointed out that in the eyes of the CCP, the role of the media is to act as the party’s mouthpiece. Both state-owned and private media are under increasingly tight control by the CCP, while foreign journalists face many obstacles when reporting in China. Journalists and bloggers who dare to report on “sensitive” information are regularly monitored, harassed, detained, and in some cases tortured. To further silence them, the CCP will even accuse them of spying, subverting state power, or provoking trouble. Independent journalists risk being placed under residential surveillance in designated locations, like in “lawful” solitary confinement in “black jails” for six months.

Shawn Lin


Shawn Lin is a Chinese expatriate living in New Zealand. He has contributed to The Epoch Times since 2009, with a focus on China-related topics.

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