Police and local officials who refused to identify hemselves followed for nine hours, harassed and briefly detained three foreign journalists, their Chinese assistant and a source traveling with them in Hebei Province. The media were trying to report on water diversion to Beijing.
The journalists – one each from the U.S., the Netherlands, and Spain – first noticed local officials at a diversion canal project near Changgucheng village, where a woman asked what they were doing and if they had come to see the mayor. After leaving the canal, the reporters saw two unmarked cars which followed them for 90 minutes to a reservoir, where they were denied access. The journalists then attempted to access a second reservoir the Wangkui but were stopped by 15 people who blocked the road with a table, saying the road has been closed for four years.
After two hours of negotiation and showing their press cards to the only uniformed officer present (who was the only person who showed an I.D. to the media) the journalists were allowed to leave. Despite being promised they wouldn’t be followed, the media were followed to the entrance of the expressway to Beijing.
The journalists had phoned the Foreign Ministry and International Press Center in Beijing for assistance when local officers said they wouldn’t allow the party to leave the blockaded area. The IPC said it could not help. Foreign Ministry officials did not call back as promised, though one responded several days later.