Foreign journalists in China complain of increasing restrictions on independent reporting in the country.
Foreign correspondents in China complain that there are “unprecedented restrictions” on their reporting from the country. A report on Monday showed that the Foreign Correspondents Club (FCCC) annual survey found that 99 per cent said working conditions did not meet international standards. “The FCCC is concerned about the declining astronomical pace of media freedom in China.”
With the Beijing Winter Olympics set to begin on Friday, 60 percent of respondents to the 127 poll had previously criticized organizers for insufficient information about events. Thirty-two percent complained that they were excluded from events that were open to other media.
Incidents of visa denial, surveillance, intimidation and harassment have been reported in daily work. Officials justified the fight against the corona virus by delaying the issuance of visas, banning reporter travels or rejecting interview requests. Nearly half (46 percent) of those surveyed said their offices were understaffed because they could not bring journalists into the country.
“As a result, reporting from China suffers,” the FCCC noted. Chinese reporters who are not allowed to report directly from the country have settled in Taipei, Singapore, Sydney, Seoul or London. “China’s press coverage is increasingly becoming an exercise in remote reporting.”
Meanwhile, reporters in the country suffered significant restrictions on their work. Sixty-two percent said they had been prevented from making a single complaint by the police or other authorities. Eighty-eight percent of those who went to the Xinjiang region in northwest China reported being harassed. China has come under international criticism for its treatment of Uyghur Muslims, a minority in Xinjiang.
The report says more than a quarter of journalists knew the evidence had been harassed, arrested or interrogated. Ninety-two percent of respondents denied that they needed permission from their employers or superiors to speak to the foreign media.
Authorities are encouraging lawsuits
Cheng Lee, an Australian journalist who worked for CCTV, and Hayes Fan, a Chinese employee of the financial institution Bloomberg, have been detained for more than a year. No concrete allegations were made – except for vague indications of state security. David Rennie of The Economist says, “The risk environment is changing dramatically right now.
Chinese officials also appear to be promoting civil lawsuits or legal action against foreign reporters. Pro-government campaigns with online attacks made the job harder. It promotes sentiment among the Chinese people that the foreign media is hostile, the FCCC noted. A handful of reporters and their families who were thus attacked have fled the country as a precautionary measure due to the persecution.