Beat the Press

99 percent of China-based journalists report harassment, intimidation

Xi Jinping / AP
May 28, 2015

China continues to abuse and obstruct foreign and local reporters, according to a new report.

The Foreign Correspondents Club of China surveyed hundreds of China-based reports regarding working conditions. It found near universal hostility from the regime toward the media: 99 percent of respondents reported that China’s treatment of journalists does not meet international standards.

"Official harassment, obstruction and intimidation of foreign correspondents and their local staff remain serious problems," the FCCC said.

Several instances of harsh interference of foreign reporters by Chinese authorities are detailed in the report. Respondents spoke under conditions of anonymity to protect them from retribution.

A respondent identified as a reporter from a "Western News Agency" told the FCCC that authorities took him into custody and denied him outside contact because of his reporting.

"At 2:00, police escorted the reporter to an interrogation room, and locked him to a metal chair, ‘for his safety.’ He asked if he could make a phone call or contact a lawyer for advice, but he was not allowed to. Then he was questioned again," the report said.

Government intimidation is not limited to journalists themselves, as Chinese authorities pursue media sources to clamp down on transparency. A journalist from an American news organization, also unnamed, said several sources have vanished in the midst of investigative reporters.

"Several people I interviewed for a report about torture and abuses in the Communist Party’s internal anti-corruption investigation system were threatened by the authorities for talking about their experiences to the foreign media.  At least two of them have since been taken back into some form of custody for unknown reasons, their whereabouts unclear," the report said.

Chinese authorities breach international press standards by continually threatening and intimidating foreign reporters, according to the report. China’s Foreign Ministry has been offering assurances to journalists that working conditions will improve. However, the FCCC found that there have been no signs of progress, as harassment and intimidation persist.

"This represents a negligible improvement over last year’s survey…not one member said conditions had improved," the report says.

Published under: China