Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is deeply concerned by reports that a foreign
journalist was warned by China’s Foreign Ministry that they had breached
unspecified regulations by writing three articles on topics considered
sensitive by the Chinese Government.
The foreign journalist,
who wished to remain anonymous, told IFJ that they believe the warning from the
authorities was related to the deliberate delaying of the decision as to
whether or not their working visa would be granted. The journalist has been
living in Beijing, China for a number of years, and prior to 2011 had
encountered no delays in securing a working visa.
The journalist said, “I’ve
been waiting on my visa application for almost a year, but the Exit-Entry
Administration Department refuses to give me an answer. They have offered
various excuses to delay my visa, even asking me to comprehensively explain my
previous work and activities”.
However, after having
written three articles on sensitive topics, including Chinese artist/activist Ai
Weiwei and the Yunnan floods, while waiting on visa approval the journalist was
warned by the Foreign Ministry that they had breached the government’s regulation.
No further explanation was given.
According to the
journalist, “they refused to provide me with a visa because of the critical
content of my reports, as well as the upcoming leadership changes due to take
place during the Eighteenth National Congress”.
On May 7, Melissa
Chan, a female journalist for Al Jezeera English and a Board Member of the Foreign
Correspondents’ Club of China (FCCC), was expelled from China with an excuse that
she too had breached government regulation.
The FCCC reported that
authorities also did not provide evidence or explanations as to which
regulation had been breached.
Thirteen other foreign journalists
have also had their visa applications on hold for more than six months.
“This latest case is
another example that demonstrates that the authorities of China are using the content
of journalists’ reporting to determine which journalists will receive a working
visa,” the IFJ Asia-Pacific Office said.
“The use of the threat of
denied working visas as a threat to suppress journalists is a clear violation
of press freedom.”
“The IFJ urges Yang
Jiechi, Minister of China’s Foreign Ministry, to take action to ensure his officers
make decisions regarding the granting of visas to foreign correspondents based
on legitimate grounds, rather than consideration of their editorial content”.
On 15 May, Global Times
reported that local Beijing authorities had commenced a three months
investigative campaign targeting all foreigners who are illegally staying,
working and entering Beijing. The report stated that Beijing is the first place
to begin monitoring the number of foreigner journalists, with other developed
cities expected to follow.
further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0950
The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131
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