Radio Free Asia reaches its target audiences in nine languages in six countries, including China, North Korea, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam. RFA journalists provide uncensored, fact-based news to citizens of these countries, among the world’s worst media environments. Through webcast video, television, satellite, social media networks, and digital content on its websites, in addition to trusted short- and medium-wave radio broadcasts, RFA delivers its unique, award-winning, brand of journalism. RFA also functions as an open forum for those living in some of the most closed societies to voice and discuss their opinions freely. RFA is funded by a grant from the BBG.
- Budget: $41.8 million in FY 2013
- Employees: 253
- Languages: 9
- Mobile Apps: available in 12 versions on Apple iOS and Android
The Tibetan Service was the first to report on many of the self-immolations among Tibetans protesting Beijing’s rule. Since the deadly protests began, 124 Tibetans have self-immolated despite heightened security. The service also reported on China compelling Tibetans and Tibetan-owned businesses to fly China’s national flag and display pictures of President Xi Jinping. Thousands have taken to the streets in protest.
The Uyghur Service covered the tightening of restrictions and targeting of China’s mostly Muslim Uyghurs in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. International media cited RFA’s reports on a violent clash at a police station in northwestern China. Chinese officials and police confirmed RFA reports that nine Uyghur youths armed with knives and sickles were killed after storming the police station in the Kashgar region. International outlets also quoted the Uyghur Service’s coverage regarding the Uyghur man who ploughed his car into crowds at Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in October. RFA reported that the man may have sought revenge for a raid on a mosque in his hometown in the XUAR.
The Cantonese Service’s multimedia series, “Poisoned at the Source,” documented through undercover video the unsafe practices in China’s food industry. The series’ video focusing on the use of recycled “gutter oil” by street food vendors went viral on social media and global news sites, garnering over 2 million YouTube views. The service also published many citizen photos and videos of labor conflicts and protests over government land grabs in southern China.
The Mandarin Service covered the crackdown on journalists and editors in China over the publication of investigative reports on corruption and wealth of authorities and their family members. The service also reported the aggressive crackdowns on unofficial “house churches” in Beijing, Henan, Anhui, and Shandong, among other provinces. In addition, National Public Radio and other sources cited the service’s ongoing coverage of the forced confiscation of property in China. In some cases these resulted in the self-immolations of former homeowners, whose families expressed frustration at having no means of recourse to address their grievances over the loss of farmland and homes.
The Khmer Service extensively covered Cambodia’s national elections in July, with reports from every province. The service provided viewers with a front-row seat on news about the candidates, their campaigns, and the issues. Following the polls, when allegations emerged about ballot fraud, the service covered local and international queries and probes, and election reform talks. In addition, the service reported on jailed land rights activists serving time for protesting forced evictions.
The Vietnamese Service reported on the government’s surveillance of and campaign against online dissent and activism, as more bloggers and netizens were jailed. The country implemented harsh Internet restrictions, making it easier to crack down on bloggers and social media users. The service also covered land issues with the continued confiscation of property from its citizens.
The Myanmar Service covered the many challenges besetting Myanmar as its parliament debated the establishment of a pro-reform, post-dictatorship charter that might allow opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi to run for president in the next national election. Twice in 2013, PBS’s NewsHour featured the service’s video footage in reports about land confiscation issues and sectarian violence among Buddhists and Muslims. In addition, the service also reported on progress among Myanmar’s armed rebel ethnic groups in reaching a ceasefire agreement with the government.
The Lao Service reported on the case of missing Lao activist Sombath Somphone, believed to have died in police custody. Sombath was seen last in December 2012 at a police checkpoint. The service also covered controversies surrounding Laos’ dam projects, which have displaced citizens, threatened the environment, and drew criticism from neighboring countries.
The Korean Service reported on changes taking place in North Korea’s political prison camps, with some expanding. The service also covered international reaction and expert analysis on North Korea’s third nuclear test in February. Using defectors on staff, the service obtained information from inside North Korea about drug addiction, the circulation of counterfeit Yuan, and the popularity of South Korean mobile devices, among other developments in the dictatorship.
In November, RFA won at the International Media Excellence Awards, sponsored by the Association of International Broadcasters (AIB), for its e-book “Remembering Tiananmen.” The e-book, which documents the Tiananmen Square crackdown in 1989, includes video, interactive timelines, images, and audio, and was produced in close collaboration with BBG’s Office of Digital & Design Innovation (ODDI).
In June 2013, New York Festivals international radio programs awards honored RFA’s Uyghur Service with a gold medal for its ongoing coverage of the forced disappearances of Uyghur men since the 2009 uprising in Urumqi.
In April 2013, RFA’s Cantonese Service won a regional Edward R. Murrow award from the Radio Television Digital News Association. The service won for an exclusive interview with a fugitive Chinese real-estate mogul who went into hiding after being targeted by disgraced Chinese politician Bo Xilai.
In February 2013, RFA Cantonese won a Gracie award from the Alliance for Women in Media Foundation for its coverage of a daughter who was kidnapped and forced to work as a maid reuniting with her parents after 22 years of separation.
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