Chinese legislator propose law protecting press freedom

A Chinese legislator has proposed a law that would protect journalists from violence and punish them for making up stories, the government said Thursday, following reports that an editor was beaten to death by police after reporting on corruption in their ranks.

"Those who try to prevent journalists from reporting the truth, especially those who resort to violence, should be severely punished," the official Xinhua News agency quoted Wang Weizhong, a lawmaker from the northeastern province of Jilin, as saying.

Wang's proposed legislation, made during the annual 10-day session of China's parliament currently meeting in Beijing, would also ensure reporter's rights to cover events and include punishments for reporters who take bribes, Xinhua said. It did not say when he made his comments.

"I frequently learned about incidents in which journalists doing investigative reports or trying to expose social evils encountered various kinds of obstructions and were even beaten savagely," Xinhua quoted Wang as saying, without giving details.

Last month, the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists said a newspaper editor in eastern China died after being beaten by police officers angered by his paper's reports on police corruption.

President Hu Jintao's government has been cracking down on local media that have recently been pushing the limits of China's tight controls by reporting on issues like corruption, in part to capture more readers in an increasingly competitive market.

On Wednesday, the U.S. State Department released its annual global human rights report, which accused China of recently clamping down on print, broadcast and electronic media and censoring Internet content.

"A mature and complete (media) supervisory system is needed by every society, but such a system is not fully established yet in China," Wang said in the Xinhua report Thursday, reports the AP.


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