Reporters Without Borders
February 15, 2007
Chinese authorities are on the whole respecting the new
regulations for foreign journalists that took effect nearly 50
days ago although the foreign ministry has clearly not given
provincial officials enough information about the changes and
there have been at least five cases of correspondents being
prevented from meeting dissidents, Reporters Without Borders
new rules are a positive development but much remains to be
done,” Reporters Without Borders said. “In particular, we call
on Cai Wu, the head of the government information office, to
suppress the temporary nature of this changes. A reversion to
the former archaic rules after the Olympic Games, is out of
press freedom organisation continued: “It is also outrageous
that the authorities still prevent the public and foreign
residents from freely visiting any website, listening to
foreign radio programmes (by jamming them) and reading the
articles written by the thousands of foreign correspondents.”
Reporters Without Borders added: “The government must pursue
its reforms by allowing foreign news media to employ Chinese
journalists and to make unrestricted visits to Tibet and
Xinjiang. The rules imposed by the Propaganda Department on
the Chinese media also need to be eased as a matter or
urgency. The dual standards that are being established in the
run-up to the Olympic Games are unacceptable.”
foreign news organisations have successfully tested the new
rules that took effect on 1 January. For example, Reuters
journalists have conducted working visits to several provinces
including Inner Mongolia that previously would have been
forbidden. They were able, for example, to meet the wife of
Hada, the editor of a Mongolian publication
who has been imprisoned since 1995. A Reuters reporter had
been requesting permission to conduct this interview since
2004. Even the official news agency Xinhua described the
report as historic, although it did not name Hada.
was also able to interview Bao Tong, an assistant of the
former, pro-reform Prime Minister Zhao Ziyang, although
foreign correspondents were prevented from visiting Zhao’s
children. Reporters were also able to meeting human rights
activist Hu Jia at his Beijing home although some of them had
their passports checked by the police.
other hand, the police have prevented journalists from meeting
the Shanghai-based lawyer Zheng Enchong, the lawyer Gao
Zhisheng and the anti-AIDS doctor Gao Yaojie. Policemen
prevented a Japanese correspondent from entering Gao
Zhisheng’s home on the grounds that he did not have the
required official permission.
Beijing-based correspondents of Hong Kong news organisations
confirmed that they have been able to interview academics and
experts in the past few weeks without going through the
authorities. The weekly Nanfang Zhoumo quoted
Chan Wing-kai, the correspondent of the daily
Ming Pao, as saying he was able to work much faster.
have been several examples of local authorities not being
correctly informed about the new regulations. Mai
Jiexi of the British news weekly The
Economist had problems with officials in the central
province of Henan while doing a report on AIDS. A quick call
to the foreign affairs ministry (“Waiban”) sufficed to
convince them to let him work. Nonetheless, the police went
ahead of him to some villages to tell residents not to give
foreign journalists play down the impact of the new rules.
“Most of us had not been requesting prior permission for
several years,” one European correspondent said. “It can help
with interviewing officials. But they are not always aware of
the new rules in the provinces.” CNN reporter
Jaime Flor Cruz confirmed in an interview for a
Chinese newspaper that most local officials were often unaware
of the changes that took effect on 1 January.
government in Beijing has given assurances that journalists
from Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao will enjoy the same rights.
Hong Kong journalists told Reporters Without Borders this was
a “major change” as they previously had to request permission
from the Chinese Liaison Bureau in the former British colony
before going to cover a story on the Chinese mainland.
Taiwanese media have also benefited from the changes. The
previous rules, dating from 1996, required them to first
request permission from the Beijing government’s Bureau of
Taiwan Affairs. Then the All-China Journalists Association had
to give its assent. Taiwanese reporters continue to be subject
to special surveillance in the field by the Bureau of Taiwan
Affairs and the Public Security Department.
Taiwanese journalist confirmed that crews from three
Taipei-based TV stations were able to go to the southern
province on Yunnan without requesting prior permission on 9
January to cover the arrest of an alleged Taiwanese criminal.
On the other hand, soldiers turned back several Hong Kong
reporters who went to cover a military aircraft crash on 9
January in the southern province of Guangdong.
According to the Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, the new
rules also apply to Tibet and Xinjiang. So far, there have
been no reports of any refusals or incidents there, bearing in
mind that all foreigners need special authorisation to visit
these regions. A European journalist told Reporters Without
Borders that protracted negotiations were still needed to
obtain a laissez-passer.
journalists voiced concern that the authorities are stepping
up pressure on the Chinese they want to interview. Article 6
of the new rules stipulates that journalists must obtain the
consent of the persons they interview.
same time, the Public Security Department has not relaxed its
supervision of dissident Chinse journalists and writers.
Around 20 of them were prevented from going to Hong Kong at
the beginning of this month to attend a conference organised
by the International PEN writers’ association. Writers
Zan Aizong and Zhao Dagong were
turned back at the “border” between mainland China and Hong
journalists who work for Chinese media that are based outside
of the country are still denied accreditation and the right to
work freely. Journalists working for the website Boxun
were told by the authorities that the new rules solely concern
foreign journalists employed by foreign news media.