Sami Sillanpaa, correspondent for the Finnish daily Helsingin Sanomat, said two days after the May 12 earthquake in Sichuan a half dozen foreign correspondents were barred at a roadblock from entering the town of Beichuan near the epicenter.
While the foreign journalists were held up, Chinese journalists got on a minibus and were allowed through. Sillanpaa said in the early days after the quake he was stopped at about five roadblocks outside Dujiangyan, Mianyang and elsewhere. Twice policemen told him foreign correspondents need to get permission from the local government’s foreign affairs office to pass through. On another occasion authorities interfered with his interviews in a hospital in Deyang town, saying he could spread viruses. Nearby, a Chinese journalist filmed unimpeded.