I sidste uge sendte Foreign Correspondents Club of China (som jeg er bestyrelsesmedlem af) en mail ud med beskrivelser af nogle af de seneste hændelser, hvor kinesiske myndigheder har forhindret udenlandske korrespondenter i at udføre deres arbejde. Hændelserne viser også, hvilke konsekvenser det kan have for kinesiske kilder at tale med udenlandske journalister.
Her er to eksempler på hændelser, der er jævnt klassiske og gennemsnitlige:
BRITISH JOURNALIST PREVENTED FROM REPORTING ON FUNERAL REFORM IN ANHUI
October 11th 2014
Anhui, Zongyang County, Anqing
A correspondent working for a British newspaper was reporting on funeral reform in rural Anhui province, and approached a village party secretary for comment. The party secretary reported the driver’s license plate number to his superiors. As the report went up through the municipal chain of command, various authorities harassed the driver’s wife and the party secretary of his ancestral village. Municipal police then forced the driver to bring the correspondent to the police station — even though the reporter had registered at a hotel the night before — threatening unspecified consequences if he refused to comply. At the police station, they took down the reporter’s information and let him go — yet called the fixer afterwards, suggested that they were tracking all movements, and warned of unspecified consequences if the reporter continued reporting. At 6:30 the following morning, the manager of the hotel where the journalist stayed overnight woke him up and, under pressure from police, forced him to leave. Once he got back to Beijing, a source in a separate village said that local officials harassed him and forced him to surrender the contact information of the journalist.
POLICE DETAINED TWO ACTIVISTS AFTER INTERVIEWS WITH WASHINGTON POST
Anhui authorities have detained two activists and former law enforcement officials, after the Washington Post interviewed them in Beijing, reportedly about their experiences with China’s petitioning system. Dangshan City public security officers took one man into custody on October 28. Police later criminally detained him, a former bailiff at a Dangshan court, on suspicion of “creating a disturbance”. Police in Huanan City administratively detained another interviewee for 10 days for “illegal petitioning”.
I dag skriver New York Times om Kinas kølige forhold til udenlandske medier. Avisen interviewer Jaime FlorCruz, der i dag er chef for CNN’s kontor i Beijing, og som har været i Kina siden 1971. Da han først kom til Kina var arbejdsforholdene langt værre end i dag, og reglerne meget strammere. Læg mærke til hans sidste citat:
Mr. FlorCruz, who has reported for Time and Newsweek over the years, recalls the days when the foreign press corps needed government permission to leave the capital and official minders made it difficult to interact with ordinary Chinese. “Figuring out how to shrug off your handlers and get several minutes to do what you wanted became an art,” he said in an interview.
As part of its bid for the 2008 Olympics, Beijing relaxed those travel restrictions, leading to a boom of media coverage from the nation’s hinterland — including stories about pollution, corruption and everyday injustice that the government undoubtedly wishes had remained obscured to foreign audiences.
But Mr. FlorCruz, like other veteran reporters in China, has seen a noticeable decline in official openness, which he said reflected insecurity and unseen turmoil within the nation’s leadership.
As he contemplates retirement in the coming year, Mr. FlorCruz, 63, reflected on what he described as the Chinese government’s struggle to navigate its newfound status as an economic and diplomatic power.
“The government should realize that being big also means you are in the spotlight, which includes figuring out how to take constructive criticism,” he said. “China needs thicker skin.”