The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) calls on China’s authorities to investigate the implementation of rules allowing foreign journalists more freedom to report on the Mainland, after a foreign journalist was prevented from interviewing a jobless teacher.
The IFJ is concerned that provincial authorities are either refusing to adhere to the more relaxed rules for foreign journalists, which were initially in place for the Olympic Games and then extended in October 2008, or have not been made aware of them.
Under the rules, foreign reporters are generally permitted to travel where they wish (with the exception of some regions such as Tibet) and to interview anyone who is willing to talk to them.
A German journalist told the IFJ that provincial officers in Jining, Shangdong, prevented him on February 19 from interviewing a jobless teacher who had consented to the interview two days previously.
The journalist, who wishes to remain anonymous, said that he went to the teacher’s house, as agreed, but the teacher was not there. He noticed plain-clothes security personnel were watching him and his colleagues.
“I was very worried for the safety of the interviewee,” he told the IFJ. “The interviewee might be in danger.”
The teacher, who also asked not to be named, told the IFJ that local officials had taken him from his home on February 19 to an inn for two days.The officials asked him not to talk with foreign media because some foreign journalists were anti-communist and there was a risk of damaging China’s image abroad, he said.
“I’m not an anti-communist party activist,” he told the IFJ. “I have been appealing to various government departments for ages to demand fair treatment to all retired rural teachers.”
The teacher said he had called many Mainland-based media to draw attention to what he thought was unfair treatment of teachers, but none had shown interest in reporting the matter.
The journalist said he had a similar experience in Henan Province a week previously. “I don’t know whether it is due to the central government or whether the local provincial government was trying to undermine the rules,” he said. “I have started to take caution about the working conditions in China.”
“Under Article 6 of the rules covering foreign media, all foreign journalists need only obtain oral consent from interviewees at the time of an interview,” IFJ General Secretary Aidan White said.
“China’s central authorities must take action to ensure all officials, at whatever level, fully understand the rules and adhere to them.”
The IFJ’s recently released report, China’s Olympic Challenge: Press Freedom in 2008, recommends that directives must be issued to all central and provincial authorities in China, advising them of the rules applying to foreign media and ordering that they refrain from intimidating, harassing or intercepting foreign journalists and local interviewees.
China090224 Traditional Chinese.pdf
China090224 Simplified Chinese.pdf
For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries worldwide