LOCATION: Hebei Province, town and village near Baoding
TYPE OF INCIDENT: Foreign journalist, local hire and source followed and filmed by authorities.
TOPIC: Rural spending on health care and household appliances.
NATIONALITY: Spanish and Dutch
Description: Local authorities took longer than 15 minutes to record the reporting team’s information, interfered with an interview with hospital director and appeared to intimidate other interviewees. Unidentified authorities unsuccessfully pressured the translator to speak in a private room and disclose the purpose of the visit. The authorities offered the journalists an unwanted lunch invitation and guide services. “They kept stalling our interview and our departure, and when we went to the Yingbindajie to interview local shopowners they kept loitering. This seemed to intimidate the shop people a bit. We asked them repeatedly to stop following us and not to take pictures. They seemed to comply initially, but after a few minutes would just do it again. This was repeated at the local clinic at Beidacun, a village near Baoding. When I asked two of them to identify themselves they didn’t give their names or namecards, but said they were from the local xuanchuanbu (propaganda department) and were here to help us.” The authorities were helpful when, shortly before the journalists left, one lost a cell phone and the authorities helped them find it.
QUOTE: “We explained that if the interviewees agree with the interview, we can interview them without further permission. They seemed to be aware of this, and just emphasized that they were there to provide service.”