In a report titled "Journalism's Great Leap Back in China", the Press Freedom Association denounces "an unprecedented campaign of repression by the Chinese regime in recent years against journalism and the right to information worldwide ".

According to RSF, at least 127 journalists are in detention across the country.

The Uyghurs are the most numerous among them, while the power of President Xi Jinping has engaged in recent years to bring Xinjiang down, following attacks attributed to Islamists or separatists from this ethnic group.

More than a million Uyghurs have been locked up in political re-education centers, according to human rights associations.

Beijing disputes this figure and speaks of vocational training centers intended to keep "trainees" away from radicalization.

The communist regime has imposed an "information blackout" in Xinjiang by de facto preventing independent reporting on the ground, said Uyghur journalist Gulchehra Hoja from abroad, quoted in the report.

Among the Uyghur perpetrators in detention is the intellectual Ilham Tohti, winner of the 2019 Sakharov Prize of the European Parliament, and who maintained a website listing problems faced by his minority.

Gulmira Imin, administrator of another website, has been imprisoned since 2009.

Xi Jinping "brutally put an end" to hopes for improving press freedom in China, said RSF secretary general Christophe Deloire.

Last year, 18 foreign reporters had to leave the country and an Australian journalist working for Chinese television, Cheng Lei, was arrested.

At least 10 journalists, professional or not, have been arrested after covering in early 2020 the imposition of quarantine in the city of Wuhan (center), where Covid-19 was initially discovered.

One of them, Zhang Zhan, was sentenced to four years in prison.

According to her relatives, the days of this "citizen journalist", who is on a hunger strike, are numbered.

© 2021 AFP

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