(TibetanReview.net, Mar03’20) – China has been using expulsions and threats of expulsion to intimidate foreign journalists whose reports it does not like and the Foreign Correspondents Club of China (FCCC) said in its annual report Mar 2 that Beijing had now stepped-up this campaign. “Chinese authorities are using visas as weapons against the foreign press like never before,” the AFP Mar 2 quoted the report as saying.
“Since 2013, when Xi Jinping’s ascension to power was completed, China has forced out nine foreign journalists, either through outright expulsion or by non-renewal of visas. The FCCC fears that China is preparing to expel more journalists,” Reuters Mar 2 quoted the group as saying, citing responses from 114 reporters to a survey.
“Chinese authorities are using visas as weapons against the foreign press like never before, expanding their deployment of a long-time intimidation tactic as working conditions for foreign journalists in China markedly deteriorated in 2019,” the report was further quoted as saying.
But Zhao Lijian, spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry, has called the FCCC report “inappropriate”, maintaining that Beijing did not recognize the organization.
“There are over 600 foreign journalists stationed in China and they don’t need to worry about their reporting in China as long as they observe Chinese laws and regulations,” he was quoted as telling a regular media briefing.
Unfortunately, “Chinese laws and regulations” only mean what China’s ruing apparatus says, with no recourse being available to an independent judiciary to determine issues and legalities.
The FCCC has noted that for a second year running, none of the respondents to the survey had said reporting conditions in China had improved, with 82% saying they had experienced interference, harassment or violence while out reporting.
“As China reaches new heights of economic influence, it has shown a growing willingness to use its considerable state power to suppress factual reporting that does not fit with the global image it seeks to present,” the report was quoted as saying.
At least 12 correspondents received press credentials valid for six months or less – more than double the number given short-term visas the previous year, in what the FCCC called a record, noted the AFP report.
The group has warned that “hostility toward foreign press is now so pervasive that the most basic elements of journalism are often frustrated in China”.