(TibetanReview.net, Mar03’23) – China requires a special permit for an independent journalist to visit Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) and has continued to deny it to everyone who applied for it in 2022.
Three foreign journalists who took the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China (FCCC) survey over Dec 2022 – Jan 2023 have said they applied for permission to enter TAR last year; all got a rejection, said Washington-based International Campaign for Tibet (ICT), Mar 2, citing the FCCC’s annual report.
The FCCC’s annual report, titled as “Zero Covid, Many Controls: Covering China in 2022,” is based on a survey of 102 of its 166 members, representing news organizations from 30 countries and regions.
The TAR is the only region that the People’s Republic of China requires foreigners, including foreign media, to have special permission to enter, said the ICT.
“Access to the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) remains officially restricted for foreign journalists,” the report was quoted as saying. “Reporters must apply to the government for special permission or join a press tour organized by China’s State Council or” Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
TAR, officially demarcated by China in 1965 after it annexed the Himalayan nation in 1951, constitutes about half of Tibet proper.
“The fact that so few journalists in the Foreign Correspondents’ Club survey even made the attempt to apply to enter the TAR shows that media know the Chinese authorities will likely deny their requests. But the stories of Tibetans suffering under China’s rule must be told,” said the ICT.
The Tibet advocacy group called on foreign journalists to continue their efforts to report the truth about Tibet and on China to settle the conflict over the territory through peaceful negotiations with the Dalai Lama’s envoys.
Media access even to Tibetan areas outside the TAR, though technically open to foreigners, was also restricted, the FCCC report was cited as saying.
A journalist from a Western news outlet was quoted as saying: “I was stopped and detained by police and local officials in a Tibetan area of Sichuan. Officials claimed because of Covid controls, foreigners were not being allowed in, even though I had three negative Covid tests in the past three days. They tried to force me onto a plane to Chengdu, but when the plane was canceled, they refused to let me go and drove me straight to Chengdu instead, a nearly 11-hour drive.”
China routinely denies entry to Tibet not only for foreign journalists, but diplomats and tourists as well while foreign tourists could only travel in supervised groups.
The United States passed a Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act in 2018 under which Chinese officials could be banned from entering the US over their role in keeping Americans out of the occupied Himalayan territory.