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World News24

World News24

World News24

Foreign scribes face uphill task in reporting from China: Report

Posted on January 31 2022, 15:00pm

Foreign scribes face uphill task in reporting from China: Report

BEIJING: The foreign press is facing unprecedented hurdles in covering China as a result of the government's efforts to block and discredit independent reporting, the Foreign Correspondents' Club of China's (FCCC) said in its latest report.

As the number of journalists forced out by the Chinese state grows, covering China is increasingly becoming an exercise in remote reporting. With China pulling out all the stops for the Olympic Games, the FCCC is troubled by the breakneck speed by which media freedom is declining in China.

Ninety-nine per cent of foreign journalists responding to an annual survey conducted by the FCCC said that reporting conditions did not meet what they considered to be international standards.

While China's strict pandemic measures have allowed authorities to curb the number of infections, Covid-19 has been used frequently by authorities seeking to delay approvals for new journalist visas, shut down reporting trips, and decline interview requests.

As many as 46 per cent of respondents said their bureaus were understaffed because they had not been able to bring in the required number of journalists.

52 per cent of respondents said they were told to leave a place or denied access for health and safety reasons when they presented no risk, according to China's own regulations.

As a result, coverage of China is suffering. "62 per cent of respondents said they were obstructed at least once by police or other officials; 88 per cent of the journalists who travelled to Xinjiang in 2021 said that they were visibly followed; More than a quarter of respondents said their sources were harassed, detained, or called in for questioning by police more than once," the FCCC report said.

Chinese authorities also appear to be encouraging a spate of lawsuits or the threat of legal action against foreign journalists, typically filed by sources long after they have explicitly agreed to be interviewed.

Meanwhile, state-backed attacks against foreign journalists, particularly trolling campaigns online, have made it increasingly hard for journalists remaining in China to operate. Such campaigns have fostered a growing feeling among the Chinese public that foreign media are the enemy and directly encourage offline violence and harassment of journalists in the field, FCCC said.

It further said that foreign journalists and their families are being harassed so severely by the state that a handful of correspondents, demoralised and under attack, have simply left mainland China. 

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