A leading media rights group says China is currently holding at least 32 journalists behind bars, making it the world's third-worst jailer of the press.
The Committee to Protect Journalists said reporters working in the restive areas of Tibet and Xinjiang are most vulnerable. It said nearly two-thirds of China's imprisoned journalists are Tibetans or Uighurs held in detention for documenting rising ethnic tensions.
The findings were reported Tuesday in CPJ's annual census of jailed journalists, which found that the number of imprisoned journalists reached a record high in 2012. Turkey ranked worst in CPJ's report, jailing 49 journalists. Iran was close behind with 45.
Worldwide, CPJ identified 232 journalists behind bars, the group's highest figure since it began conducting surveys in 1990. It said the spike was driven in part by the widespread use of charges of terrorism and other anti-state offenses against reporters and editors.
On a positive note, the report said that for the first time since 1996, Burma is not among the nations jailing journalists. It said Burmese authorities released at least 12 imprisoned journalists over the past year as part of the southeast Asian country's political reform process.
But it was more pessimistic about China, where journalists have long complained of harassment and interference by Communist leaders who use some of the world's toughest censorship policies in the world to stifle dissent.
Beijing has recently given lengthy jail terms to a number of writers and dissidents who were critical of the Communist Party, which often views such material as threats to its single party hold on power.