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Foreign journalists thrashed, intimidated in China

Several journalists from international organisations were assaulted and intimidated recently, foreign press associations of China said today, expressing growing concern over the incidents.

world Updated: Aug 21, 2012 13:43 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

Several journalists from international organisations were assaulted and intimidated recently, foreign press associations of China said on Tuesday, expressing growing concern over the incidents.

In a statement, The Beijing-based FCCC, along with its sister organisations in Hong Kong and Shanghai, said the incidents represent a "clear risk of serious physical harm to journalists merely carrying out there professional duties in China."

On July 28, a Shanghai-based journalist from a Japan's Asahi Shimbun was said to have been beaten by police while covering a demonstration in Jiangsu province. Equipment, reported to be worth several thousands of dollars, was confiscated by authorities and is yet to be returned.

On August 10, policemen, apparently in civil dress, allegedly assaulted a reporter for Hong Kong's Asia Television as he filmed members of the public being arrested outside a courthouse in the eastern city, Hefei. The reporter was covering the murder trial of Gu Kailai, the wife of ousted Communist leader Bo Xilai.

A day later, a German television crew in Henan province was alleged to have been attacked by a mob, accused of being spies and detained for nine hours at a chemical factory before being released.

"On August 13th two reporters from Poland and the United States reporting in Ordos were followed and intimidated by three cars and at least eight individuals in the middle of the night," the statement said.

"We are particularly concerned that a number of these incidents have involved members of the official security forces and associated elements," the statement said. "We call on the authorities at all levels to ensure that journalists are protected from violence and intimidation," the statement said.

The statement was sent by the FCCC, the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Hong Kong, and the Shanghai foreign correspondents' Club.

On May 8, the Qatar-based Al Jazeera television news network had to shut its Beijing bureau after authorities here expelled its correspondent.

Al Jazeera's correspondent Mellisa Chan's residence visa and press accreditation were not extended and neither was the network allowed to post a replacement reporter, forcing the closure of the channel's English bureau.

The FCCC, in the May statement, said over the past two years 27 foreign reporters were made to wait for more than four months for visa approvals. Thirteen of these had to wait for more than six months and were still waiting at the time of the survey.

Twenty eight permanent postings or reporting trips had been cancelled since 2009 because applications for the required journalistic visas were rejected or ignored by the Chinese authorities.