Blocks on Journalists Entering Tibet Violate China’s Promise of Freedom

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) calls on Beijing to honour its promise to allow foreign media more freedom to report in China, after authorities refused applications by journalists to travel to Tibet to report on this week’s 50th anniversary of a failed uprising against China.


A Belgium journalist, who wishes to remain anonymous, told the IFJ that officers at the Foreign Ministry in Beijing and Tibet rejected his application in early March for a permit to travel from Beijing to Tibet. The officers reportedly said they were “too busy” before rejecting the application, the journalist said.


Two journalists from Germany reported that they were also denied boarding cards to enter Tibet on March 10 as they sought to travel from Chengdu, Sichuan Province. 


Further, an Associated Press (AP) journalist was asked by authorities to leave Kangding, Ganzi, on March 9. AP reported that local officials said they had received an emergency notice from the provincial government which ordered foreigners, including media personnel, out of the mixed Chinese-Tibetan town. Kangding has been an “open area” where journalists have previously not required permits to enter.


The efforts to block foreign media come as authorities in China are on alert for possible unrest around the anniversary of the 1959 failed uprising in Tibet against Chinese rule.


The latest restrictions are a breach of China’s promise in October 2008 to allow foreign media more freedom to travel and report on events in the country, in keeping with rules in place in the period before and during the August Olympic Games.


On October 17, 2008, Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao announced, “China adopts a basic policy of opening up to the outside world, [and] protects the lawful rights and interests of the permanent offices of foreign media organisations and foreign journalists in accordance with the law.”


“In these latest incidents, journalists followed the requirements for foreign media and applied for permits to travel and conduct their work. No reasonable explanation has been offered for the rejection of their permit applications,” IFJ General Secretary Aidan White said.


“The IFJ is dismayed that authorities in China are not abiding by their duty and are again breaching the Government’s 2008 commitment to allow more freedom for foreign media personnel.”


The IFJ calls on China’s Central Government to show good faith and approve the permits requested by foreign journalists in order to do their work, in line with China’s claim to be “opening up to the outside world”.


For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919


The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries worldwide