By Tsering Dhundup
DHARAMSHALA, Nov 28: Chinese independent journalist Sun Lin, also known as Jie Mu, was reportedly beaten to death by Chinese state security police officers at his home in Nanjing on November 17, 2023. Lin, who had been active in journalism for over twenty-five years, had recently posted videos on social media depicting anti-Xi Jinping protests during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in San Francisco.
A report by Reporters Without Borders revealed that Sun Lin’s death is directly linked to the Chinese regime’s decade-long crusade against press freedom. The incident unfolded when state security police officers forcibly entered Sun Lin’s residence, beating him severely. He was subsequently rushed to Jiangsu province Hospital but was pronounced dead three hours later.
According to reports from the news website Weiquanwang, Sun Lin’s family and friends were allegedly threatened by the local National Security Bureau not to speak about his death or engage in public mourning activities. As of Monday, November 20, Sun’s relatives had not been allowed to see his corpse, though doctors confirmed that his clothes were torn and in disarray upon admission.
Cédric Alviani, RSF Asia-Pacific Bureau Director, condemned the murder, attributing it to the Chinese regime’s paranoia and its relentless attacks on press freedom. Alviani urged the international community to exert pressure on the Chinese government to cease its systematic retribution against journalists.
Sun Lin, who wrote under the pen name Jie Mu, had a history of clashes with Chinese authorities due to his journalistic work. In 2008, he served four years in prison for reporting on forced evictions and Tiananmen Square petitioners. In 2016, he was arrested again and sentenced to four years for “inciting subversion of state power” while covering the trial of a human rights activist.
This event adds to a growing list of journalists and press freedom defenders who have faced persecution under the Chinese regime. Notable figures include Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo and political commentator Yang Tongyan, who both died in 2017 under suspicious circumstances and journalist Dai Shizong, who was killed in Hunan province in 2018. Kunchok Jinpa, a key source of information about Tibet, also died in detention in 2021.
A report by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) titled “The Great Leap Backwards of Journalism in China,” published in December 2021, details Beijing’s systematic efforts to control information and media both within and outside its borders. Experts say that China’s ranking of 179th out of 180 in the 2023 RSF World Press Freedom Index highlights the gravity of the situation. The country holds the distinction of being the world’s largest captor of journalists and press freedom defenders, with at least 123 individuals currently detained.