Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Foreign journalists detained in China

The growing number attacks on foreign journalists is a clear sign of how nervous China´s communist rulers are about the possibility of new anti-government demonstrations spreading  into China in the wake of the popular uprisings in the arab countries:

New York, February 28, 2011--Chinese security officials' concerted attack on the foreign press in a busy commercial street near Tiananmen Square in Beijing Sunday is a return to the restrictions international reporters faced before they were eased in the run-up to the 2008 Olympics, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.   
 Police briefly detained more than a dozen foreign journalists and assaulted at least two at the site of a planned anti-government protest in Beijing on Sunday, according to international news reports. All were released after a few hours. Anonymous appeals for "Jasmine"-themed protests in Chinese cities, based on popular uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa, began circulating online on February 19. The authors of the appeals call for an end to government corruption and an independent judiciary.
Men in plainclothes punched and kicked an unidentified Bloomberg journalist, confiscated his video camera, and detained him in a nearby store, according to the news agency. He sought treatment in a local hospital for unspecified injuries, Bloomberg reported. A journalist with Taiwanese television station Sanli TV sustained a shoulder injury when he and a female colleague were thrown into a van and detained shortly after 1 p.m., according to Radio France Internationale. They were released after 6 p.m., RFI reported.

The Foreign Correspondents Club of China said journalists were warned by telephone to seek special permission from the Wangfujing district office to report from the site, a popular shopping center. The club did not specify who the warnings came from, and said security officials had been unable to provide contact information for a police or other security office in Wangfujing where reporters could seek permission. The year before the 2008 Beijing Olympics, authorities issued regulations allowing foreign journalists to report without prior authorization on Chinese "politics, economy, society and culture," although the regulations are sometimes ignored, particularly in sensitive regions like the Tibetan Autonomous Region, according to CPJ research. 
"This is the worst aggression against the foreign press we've seen since the Olympics in 2008," said Bob Dietz, CPJ's Asia program coordinator. "Such a heavy-handed response discredits the ruling Chinese Communist Party and highlights their fear of popular opposition."

Read the entire article in the Committee to Protect Journalist website here.

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