USA skal tage sig sammen. Det amerikanske udenrigsministerium bør interessere sig for de forhold, som udenlandske journalister arbejder under i Kina. Det mener The New Yorkers korrespondent i Beijing, Evan Osnos, i denne artikel på sin blog. Og det samme kunne man sige om ikke bare USA men de andre vestlige lande.
Den kinesiske regering lægger systematisk pres på udenlandske korrespondenter, der arbejder i Kina. Hvis en journalist har lavet kritiske indslag eller artikler risikerer man, at myndighederne kommer med trusler om, at man ikke får fornyet sit visum. Beskeden er klar – opfør dig ordentligt eller tag konsekvenserne.
Som det skete for Chris Buckley og New York Times, som jeg skrev om i går.
Alle fastboende korrespondenter skal have deres visum fornyet i december. Første skridt er at få et nyt pressekort godkendt af udenrigsministeriet. Dernæst går turen til politiet, der skal behandle ens ansøgning om det et-årige journalistvisum.
En undersøgelse, som Foreign Correspondents Club of China (FCCC) lavede i 2012, viser, at i alt en tredjedel af alle korrespondenter har haft problemer med deres ansøgninger.
En af dem er for eksempel min gode kollega Martin Gøttske fra Information. Som han sagde til FCCC:
“The Foreign Ministry said directly that they were unsatisfied with articles I had written (containing information about leaked Communist party documents); they said I had committed a crime.”
Her er eksempler på andre journalisters problemer:
“A police officer at the visa office said to me “I am warning you, we can very well not give you your visa; we decide”, accusing me of having obstructed the police in their work by being present outside the court where an activist was on trial.” – European correspondent
“I was told they had the power to not-renew my visa if I didn’t change my attitude. This referred to events at Wangfujing (in Spring 2011) and the chat I had afterwards with the police, when I was argumentative and said they had their facts wrong. Since then, they have labeled me a troublemaker.” – European journalist
“I was one of a group of reporters who chased a US embassy official into Chaoyang Hospital (min note: under Cheng Guangchengs flugt) and was told that I could lose my visa if I committed a similar offence again.” – International news agency reporter
Og hvad så? Sagen er, at det ikke kun er fagligt interessant for journalister. Læs stykket her, som Evan Osnos skriver på sin blog, og skift USA ud med Vesten. Argumentationen er den samme.
That is a pattern of pressure that the United States government cannot ignore. These kinds of reports, as well as stories on the downfall of Bo Xilai, have become a vital part of the world’s understanding of China’s political strengths and weaknesses. It informs how the U.S. government understands the men on the other side of its most critical foreign-policy relationship. As Elizabeth M. Lynch, of the China Law & Policy blog, wrote this week, the U.S. has been quiet on the pressure facing American reporters. “In Melissa Chan’s case, the State Department, through a press person, just said that it was ‘disappointed’ with what happened. If ever you wanted to give the Chinese government a signal to continue to harass foreign reporters, such a tepid response was likely the way.”
Hvad kan den amerikanske – og andre – regeringer så gøre? Her skriver Osnos:
But the U.S. can do much more, both privately and publicly. In public, the State Department, at a senior level, should strongly object to pressure on American journalists, with the same energy it has directed at obstacles to the free conduct of other American businesses in China, or violations of intellectual-property and human rights. In private, media reciprocity should become a priority, and U.S. officials can remind their counterparts that Beijing’s ambitious plans to expand Chinese media in the United States are vulnerable to a backlash. This problem will not get solved on its own.