Foreign journalists in China see ‘rapid decline in media freedom’: survey

02-Mar-2021 Intellasia | Reuters | 5:02 AM Print This Post

China used coronavirus prevention measures, intimidation and visa curbs to limit foreign reporting in 2020, ushering in a “rapid decline in media freedom,” the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China (FCCC) said on Monday.

For the third year in a row, no journalists told the group that working conditions had improved, the FCCC said in an annual report based on 150 responses to a survey of correspondents and interviews with bureau chiefs.

A Chinese flag flutters above the Chinese national emblem at the Great Hall of the People after the opening session of the National People's Congress (NPC) in Beijing, China May 22, 2020. (Reuters)

A Chinese flag flutters above the Chinese national emblem at the Great Hall of the People after the opening session of the National People’s Congress (NPC) in Beijing, China May 22, 2020. (Reuters)

“All arms of state powerincluding surveillance systems introduced to curb coronaviruswere used to harass and intimidate journalists, their Chinese colleagues, and those whom the foreign press sought to interview,” it said.

Authorities cited public health concerns to deny reporters access to sensitive areas and threatened them with enforced quarantine, it added. Visa restrictions were also used to put pressure on reporting.

At least 13 correspondents were given press credentials valid for 6 months or less, the FCCC said. Foreign reporters based in China typically receive one-year visas and must renew them annually.

Journalists were also used as “pawns” in China’s diplomatic disputes, it added.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said on Monday that the report’s claims were “baseless”.

“We always welcome media and journalists from all countries to cover news in China according to the law… what we oppose is ideological bias against China and fake news in the name of press freedom,” he said, at a daily news briefing.

China expelled more than a dozen foreign journalists at US media organisations in 2020, amid a series of tit-for-tat actions between the countries. Washington also slashed the number of journalists allowed to work in the United States at four major Chinese state-owned media outlets.

In September, Australia helped two of its foreign correspondents leave China after they were questioned by the country’s state security ministry.

Journalists reporting from far western Xinjiang, where China has been accused of large-scale human rights abuses, encountered especially intense harassment, the report said.

Last year Chinese authorities detained Cheng Lei, an Australian citizen working for Chinese state media, and later Haze Fan, a Chinese national working for Bloomberg News, both on suspicion of endangering national security.

Both remain in detention.

Some Reuters journalists are members of the FCCC.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-media-idUSKCN2AT182

 

Tags:

Category: China

Print This Post

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.