The Chinese government warned Wednesday foreign journalists to cover the demonstrations in the country. If they report on such demonstrations, they risk being thrown out of China.
It became clear at a meeting of the Beijing police and dozens of international journalists in China’s capital on Wednesday. The meeting, which was filmed by police, was held after several journalists were detained and beaten up in downtown Beijing at the weekend. Sunday, journalists trooped in front of a McDonald’s restaurant in Wangfujing – Beijing’s large pedestrian this place was one of 13 that were designated on social media as a rallying point for a “jasmine revolution”, inspired by the peaceful protests in Egypt.
People were asked to “take a walk” in front of fast-food restaurant to avoid getting in trouble with the police and foreign journalists were there to see if anyone showed up.
The protesters did not materialize, but plainclothes police officers were present and strongly attacked the foreign journalists. A reporter from Bloomberg was dragged into an alley and beaten up so hard that he ended up in hospital, the agency writes in a news release.
Also, reporters from the BBC and several other news media was being pushed on, detained, harassed or deprived of their equipment.
– My producer started filming me with a small camera, but an undercover police officer knocked the camera out of her hand. Three large men grabbed her. Three others grabbed me and held my arms tight. They pushed and pulled away to a bank branch where they had already detained other journalists, writes CNN reporter Eunice Yoon in a blog post.
Enraged, the U.S. ambassador
The reactions of the treatment reporters have been met with is many and strong.
U.S. Ambassador to China, John Huntsman, said Monday that the foreign journalists were “illegally detained or harassed” on Sunday.
– This type of harassment is unacceptable and extremely upsetting, “said Huntsman, who recently announced that he gives himself as the U.S. ambassador. Probably he asks for president in 2012.
Also, the organization Committee to Protect Journalists reacts sharply.
– This is the worst we’ve seen since the Summer Olympics in 2008. Such rough treatment put the ruling Communist Party into disrepute and reveal their fear of popular resistance, “said the organization’s Asia director Bob Dietz in a statement.
Chinese authorities have refused to take self-criticism. At a press conference Tuesday complained Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu claimed that foreign journalists had a tendency to “get into trouble” and that they should understand and cooperate better with local police.
Foreign journalists are far from the only one who notices that the Beijing authorities appear to tighten the moment. The last two weeks are over 100 human rights activists and lawyers detained, abducted or harassed, according to several organizations.
For instance, the famous lawyer Teng Biao disappeared not long ago.