A year after the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China (FCCC) says the relaxed reporting rules made permanent after the Games have made travel easier for foreign correspondents. However, intimidation of sources and domestic staff mar this progress toward internationally acceptable reporting conditions.
While foreign correspondents are still denied access to the Tibet Autonomous Region, the FCCC took note of the relatively open reporting environment, with some exceptions, in Urumqi in the wake of the July 5 riots. The Olympic regulations, which were made permanent in October 2008, allow foreign reporters to travel out of Beijing without first seeking permission from local authorities.
FCCC members report increased intimidation of sources and domestic staff, a trend that threatens progress toward greater openness.
“Authorities are using intimidation to silence sources and prevent assistants from doing their jobs. This should be stopped immediately,” said FCCC President Scott McDonald. “We urge China to move closer to the best international practices by introducing legislation that protects sources.”
The FCCC is concerned about authorities’ recent threats to charge Chinese national staff and foreign financial reporters with violating state secrecy laws if they run afoul of certain guidelines on reporting of economic and financial data that are not spelled out clearly.
The FCCC condemns such threats, and urges China to bring its state secrecy laws in line with international practice.
“As China’s economic and financial influence increases, it is crucial for the global economy that China increase transparency and the free and fair flow of financial data,” said McDonald.