On 11 and 12 September 2023, Circle 19 for the Right to Information in China, an independent group supported by Reporters without Borders (RSF), held its inaugural symposium in Paris and launched the drafting process of a statement aimed at demonstrating that this universal principle is deeply rooted in China’s traditions.
Circle 19 for the Right to Information in China (Circle 19), an independent group composed of Chinese people and China specialists, held its inaugural symposium in Paris on 11 and 12 September 2023. On this occasion, Circle 19 launched the drafting process of a statement of principles aimed at demonstrating that the universal principle of the right to information is deeply rooted in China’s traditions, history and political system, contrary to certain narratives conveyed by the Chinese regime. The group’s long-term objective is to empower the Chinese public with intellectual resources related to this right to information in the People’s Republic of China.
“In its frantic race for social control, the Beijing regime deprives the Chinese public of its legitimate right to information by invoking a so-called ‘relativity’ of cultures which denies the universality of human rights. The Circle 19 initiative should demonstrate through unassailable arguments that the right to information is a central element of Chinese culture and that its implementation has been, and remains to this day, a constant demand of the Chinese people. A strategy of naming and shaming is not enough. As Liu Xiaobo, press freedom defender and nobel peace prize winner, said, change in China will come from inside.”
Secretary General of Reporters Without Borders (RSF)
Circle 19 was gradually formed from 2019 and now includes around 30 participants, whose details are not public and remain anonymous for security reasons. On its website, the group also features a selection of impactful Chinese investigative reports demonstrating the importance of journalism for the development of Chinese society.
The group’s name, Circle 19, refers to Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that enshrines the right to freedom of opinion and expression, as well as the 1919 “May Fourth movement” which advocated for progressive political and social reforms, including freedom of information.
Ranked 179th out of 180, China lies at the bottom of the 2023 RSF World Press Freedom Index and is the world’s largest captor of journalists, with at least 114 currently detained.
REPORTERS SANS FRONTIÈRES / REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS (RSF)