The press freedom watchdog said it counted at least 48 journalists jailed in China, one more than in 2018, as President Xi Jinping ramps up efforts to control the media.
That put China ahead of Turkey, which has 47 imprisoned journalists — and the largest number over the previous three years.
But Beijing defended its press freedoms on Wednesday and said the Chinese government was simply carrying out the rule of law.
“No one is above the law,” said foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying at a press briefing, before advising reporters to consider what “illegal things” the 48 jailed journalists did.
The report also said the situation in Turkey, which had 68 journalists jailed last year, is not really an improvement but “reflects the successful efforts by the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to stamp out independent reporting and criticism.”
The CPJ said the Turkish government has shut down more than 100 news outlets and lodged terror-related charges against many of their staff, putting many reporters out of work and intimidating others.