In an escalating campaign to crack down on freedom of speech, China’s communist authorities have arrested and charged eleven Chinese citizens for allegedly providing The Epoch Times with information documenting draconian virus lockdown measures.
The eleven citizens were charged and face up to life in prison if convicted, according to the Chinese Communist Party’s Supreme People’s Procuratorate.
The Epoch Times editorial board condemns this suppression of a free press and basic human rights in the strongest terms possible, and calls on Beijing to immediately release the 11 Chinese citizens.
These latest arrests were condemned by the U.S. State Department, which is urging Beijing to “cease its efforts to silence those who seek to report the truth.”
The Committee to Protect Journalists also condemned the arrests, urging communist authorities to immediately release and drop charges against the 11 Chinese citizens.
For over twenty years, Chinese citizens have seen The Epoch Times as a trusted voice, and have provided us with story leads, images, video, documents, and other kinds of information. This includes insider information from disillusioned CCP officials themselves.
This vital source of information has allowed us to inform the world of what’s really happening in China.
But for the CCP, absolute control over the flow of information has been critical to maintain its rule for the past seven decades.
The Epoch Times was founded in the year 2000 to break through this censorship and propaganda, by Chinese-Americans who saw a need for an independent press that provides truthful and uncensored news. This same commitment to independent journalism forms the DNA for the English edition of The Epoch Times, which was launched four years later.
But while The Epoch Times has provided tens of millions of Chinese citizens with uncensored news, the CCP has always sought to obstruct this free flow of information.
Our first group of reporters and editors inside of China were arrested and some jailed for up to ten years—with most of them tortured—for their work for The Epoch Times.
Outside of China, we have faced regular harassment and interference from the CCP.
Andrew Hamilton in his 1735 speech defending press freedom said: “Power may justly be compared to a great river; while kept within its bounds, it is both beautiful and useful, but when it overflows its banks, it is then too impetuous to be stemmed; it bears down all before it. And brings destruction and desolation wherever it comes.”
In the free world, we understand the freedom of the press helps keep society open and healthy. In our current greatly connected world, news in one place can be vital for the rest of the world.
What happens in China not only affects China but has the potential to affect the entire world, as we’ve seen with the pandemic.
If the world had known how fast the virus was spreading in Wuhan from the beginning, if we had known how many people died at an early stage (the real number of deaths in China is still covered up), the world would have taken different measures to protect people.
It is no secret that many media organizations in the West have been bought off and infiltrated by the CCP. It is our duty, however, to stand tall in the face of the CCP’s repression and speak the truth. We hope more media organizations can have the courage to report honestly on the CCP— and with that, in fact, save lives—both inside and outside of China.
We are not just defending these courageous Chinese citizens who risked their own safety in letting the world know the truth. We are not here just to defend press freedom. We are here to defend our basic dignity as human beings.
We are grateful for the trust and support from Chinese citizens. Throughout our entire history, they have had the courage to take great risks to pass news to us. We appreciate the support from the State Department and the Committee to Protect Journalists.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.