Foreign journalist harassed following critical reporting in China

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) strongly criticises the harassment and attack against a foreign journalist in China following the publishing of an article. The IFJ demands the Chinese government investigate the threats made against the journalist and the Global Times issues an apology to the journalist following a critical editorial it published. On November 20, the Global Times published an editorial which said that Ursula Gauthier, a correspondent for French magazine, Le Nouvel Observateur, was ‘seriously distorting the reality of Xinjing’, ‘bias’ and ‘lost the basis of common sense’ following an article she published on November 18, which cited examples of ruthless repression. The Global Times is a state-owned media outlet and sister company of the People’s Daily, a Communist Party-owned outlet. Following the editorial in the Global Times, Gauthier also received an email from an unknown source that simple included the Global Times article in the body. She was also summoned to the International Press Centre, which is controlled by the Foreign Ministry to meet with officers. Gauthier said “One of the officers insisted that I was wrong and have to recognize it, but I standby every word that I written in my article. At some point the officer shouted at me. Actually, I did try to explain to them but they simply did not accept it.” On November 23, the China Daily published a similar article criticising Gauthier, which said that Gauthier is ‘a typical example of the West’s double standard’ and ‘does not show any sympathy for the victims of the terrorist attacks in <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">China</st1:place></st1:country-region>.’ Gauthier also receiving abuse and threatening messages via Facebook and in the comments section on the Global Times article. Gauthier said that she originally found the messages posted on a website that discussed military issues in Mainland <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">China</st1:place></st1:country-region>. On November 27, Gauthier went to collect a new press card which she had applied for on November 12, however the card remains unavailable. Gauthier said “I’m the only one can not have my press card. The officer can not answer what the reason is behind this and even can’t tell me when I can get it. It’s clearly because of my published article.”    In a statement, the Foreign Correspondent’s Club of China (FCCC) said “Receiving criticism is a normal and necessary part of journalistic work, but this is neither proportionate nor reasonable.” The IFJ Asia Pacific office said “The treatment and harassment of Ursula Gauthier is unacceptable and an attack of press freedom. The actions of the government officials, trying to coerce Gauthier to admit fault is a breach of press freedom, and a tactic that is becoming increasingly common in <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">China</st1:place></st1:country-region>. Journalists have a duty to report facts not the perspective of the government or any authority.” “The withholding of Gauthier’s press card is the government’s attempt to control the media and Gauthier’s report. Actions like these need to stop immediately,” said the IFJ.

For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0946 

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