Ahead of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, the “10 Most Urgent” list for January 2022 focuses on the dire state of press freedom in China. Media outlets worldwide unite as the One Free Press Coalition to publish this list and draw attention to the most pressing cases of threats against journalists.

This past year, China continued to imprison and detain journalists without consequence, as well as weaponize surveillance and physically threaten journalists to censor them. According to CPJ’s 2021 census, China remains the world’s worst jailer of journalists for the third year in a row, with 50 behind bars. This year also marked a new concerning trend for the country, with the list including journalists held in Hong Kong for the first time since CPJ started collecting data in 1992.

Hong Kong media entrepreneur and democracy advocate Jimmy Lai Chee-ying is serving a 20-month prison sentence and awaiting trial on national security and fraud charges. If convicted, he could face a potential life sentence. Lai founded Next Digital Limited, a media company that published the pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily and Next Magazine, which were both forced to close this year due to pressure and ongoing threats from authorities.

It has been over a year since the independent journalist was sentenced to four years in prison for “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” after publishing videos critical of the government’s COVID-19 response. She has been on an ongoing hunger strike behind bars and is now in critically ill health.

Uyghur writer, blogger and scholar Ilham Tohti is serving a life sentence on charges of separatism. He is the founder of the Uyghur news website Uighurbiz, which was published in Chinese and Uyghur and focused on Uyghur rights and social issues, and has been denied freedom since 2014.

Huang Qi, publisher of the human rights news website 64 Tianwang, is serving a 12-year sentence on accusations of “deliberately leaking state secrets” and “illegally providing state secrets to foreign countries.” He is critically ill and has been denied medical treatment, as well as denied visits and communication with his mother, who is dying of cancer.

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