Jonathan Watts of Britain’s Guardian newspaper said military personnel working in Niufei Village, Pingwu County, told his reporting team they were not allowed to video the soldiers en route to a school buried in a landslide.
“I told them they should be proud of what they are doing, and they should let the people know,” Watts said. “But they confiscated a video tape, deleted some photographs, and told us to leave.”
In Mianyang the next day, Watts was obstructed by police from entering a refugee camp, although he said domestic journalists appeared to have unfettered access. Two days later, he was held up at a checkpoint near Zipingpu dam by a soldier who claimed he was under orders to prevent foreigners from entering “because spies had infiltrated the area.” On other occasions Watts said he received unprecedented cooperation from security personnel, including rides in trucks and on speedboats.
“It was a mixture. In a single day you could experience refreshing openness and a feeling of shared humanity. Then, straight after, the same old frustrating restrictions and suspicion of foreigners that was normal in the past,” he said. “Overall, my encounters with police and troops were more positive than at any time before. But it seemed to depend on the individual rather than be the result of any change of policy.”