There is none. I’m kidding, mostly, because it’s based on fairly minimal experience, but we all have a concept of what we think “freedom of speech” is in China. To that end I can quickly share two very different anecdotes.
The first is just briefly from a friend I met. When I went to Vietnam with my Chinese buddy last summer, we had a dinner with all his college friends before we took off. One of them was a journalist for a Guangdong publication. He twice had his license revoked and was fined for not saying things in line with the party. So while maybe “freedom of speech” wasn’t maintained, he clearly had integrity to his profession, as he reported what he felt was the truth – the ostensible mission of journalism. So for all the people who think Chinese journalists just toe the line, they do not.
The second happened more recently and is admittedly just in dealing with a school newspaper. However this is indicative of their media’s methods and a large, academic laziness that is pervasive throughout the education. (I’m not kidding here in the slightest.)
They asked me if I could do an interview involving how a foreigner usually celebrates Christmas. I gave them times they could meet for an in-person interview. They didn’t want to meet in person. They said writing something up is okay. So I wrote something small (which was probably way too long) and sent it to them. He goes great. This is exactly what I want, and he said he’d publish the whole thing verbatim. Basically he didn’t want to do any work, and since I wrote him something, he simply shipped it off to their newspaper. Copy. Paste. Publish.
Later, he asked for a picture, and I replied that I don’t have pictures readily available for the purpose of a newspaper. And he goes just send me a selfie real quick. Uh, no. So he goes through my WeChat and just pulls a random picture and uses that. At least in high school when I was on the newspaper, I was honest with my writers when I needed space filler. I would interview ex-athletes (my brother) and let a Q&A fill the page. This, however, is a university and they simply rehashed my entire response to a question as a finalized article. Smooth.
Let me know your thoughts on the issue in the comments below!