Group: Foreign Journalists Beaten, Harassed in China

Posted August 21st, 2012 at 5:40 am (UTC-5)
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A group of foreign press associations is complaining about a recent series of threats, harassment and beatings against international news reporters working in China.

In a statement Tuesday, the Foreign Correspondents' Club of China (FCCC) says it is alarmed by the nature and frequency of the incidents, some of which are reported to have involved state security forces.

Several international journalists are said to have been assaulted, had equipment confiscated and been forcibly detained during at least four separate incidents in various locations from late July until mid-August.

The Beijing-based FCCC, along with its sister organizations in Hong Kong and Shanghai, says the incidents represent a “clear risk of serious physical harm to journalists merely carrying out their professional duties in China.”

Foreign journalists have long complained of official interference in their reporting in the Communist country, where local authorities have tried to keep tight control of the flow of information.

FCCC board member Claudia Trevisan tells VOA that officials have been increasingly on-edge as a sensitive, once-a-decade transfer of power in the Communist party draws closer.

“The new generation of leaders will come to power in the Party Congress that will happen in November or October,” says Trevisan. “So our suspicion is that there is a higher degree of nervousness among the authorities.”

Trevisan said she cannot say whether there is a rising trend of abuses against journalists. But she said the cases outlined by her group Tuesday show the everyday difficulty of working as a foreign reporter in China.

The statement sent by the FCCC, the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Hong Kong, and the Shanghai Foreign Correspondents' Club called for “authorities at all levels to ensure that journalists are protected from violence and intimidation.”