Foreign journalists in China decry worsening reporting conditions

September 17, 2014 5:29 pm0 commentsViews: 57
Journalists waiting outside the Great Hall of the People during the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference in Beijing in March. (Photo Courtesy: Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters

Journalists waiting outside the Great Hall of the People during the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference in Beijing in March. (Photo Courtesy: Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters

(TibetanReview.net, Sep17, 2014) – Reporting conditions for foreign journalists permitted to work in China had gone from bad to worse, with the restrictions being particularly severe in the case of sensitive regions like Tibet and Xinjiang, said the Foreign Correspondents Club of China (FCCC) in a report published Sep 12. It said 99 percent of the FCCC members surveyed had said the conditions had failed to meet international standards while 80 percent said they had deteriorated or remained unchanged.

The report effectively accuses China of following a duplicitous policy regarding access to all parts of China, but especially “sensitive” areas like Tibet and Xinjiang. “Restrictions on foreign journalists’ access to ‘sensitive’ areas of the country remain widespread, arbitrary and unexplained. Large parts of Chinese territory remain officially or effectively out of bounds for foreign correspondents,” said the report, which is titled as “Position Paper on Working Conditions for Foreign Correspondents in China”.

Ahead of the Beijing Olympics of Aug 2008, China had declared the whole country open for foreign journalists. In the case of Tibet Autonomous Region, the journalists only needed to take prior permission from the regional government. The FCCC report noted that such permission has only rarely been granted in recent years.

And the report added: “Even in (Tibetan) areas that are not explicitly off limits – such as (in) Gansu, western Sichuan, and Qinghai – obstruction by local authorities makes working there extremely difficult and risky or impossible for locals to be interviewed.”

The report said apart from restrictions on travel, both foreign journalists and their media companies are discouraged from reporting on many aspects of China. “Their sources are vulnerable to intimidation or worse. If they or their co-workers write stories that displease the Chinese government, they face retribution. This could come in the form of threats, effective expulsion (visas not being renewed), retribution against news assistants and reprisals against a journalist’s media company that has business interests in China.”

The report makes about two dozen recommendations to the Chinese government for improving working conditions among overseas journalists, including allowing reporting in Tibet and an end to intimidation tactics employed by Chinese authorities, and transparency when dealing with reporters.

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