The week of June 7, Marianne Barriaux of Agence France Press encountered interference while reporting in the Sichuan earthquake zone. After registering with Dujiangyan officials, she was granted access. Barriaux was working on a story about mothers who had and tried to have babies after losing children in the earthquake. Parents and NGOs warned her officials might block her reporting.
She recounts the story below:
We left Chengdu early to get to the quake villages before officials woke up, to hopefully get some interviews in before they caught us. Sure enough, 20 minutes into one interview, they arrived. We went to the police station, they grilled us and the driver, called the (foreign affairs) and propaganda people of Dujiangyan. We stayed at least two hours and they then told us to go register at the Dujiangyan propaganda department — we had to do that to be able to report in the area.
So we did, not very optimistic they would let us continue. But the guy at the department, to our surprise, asked us where we wanted to go, and took us there. We went back to the village where I had interviewed the woman, finished her interview and interviewed another mum. Needless to say officials were present in our interviews, so it wasn’t very free (one of the mum’s mothers told me how well the Communist Party was looking after them!). So it’s not like we got great quotes or anything. And these mums weren’t the ones who have been vocal about the schools. I’m pretty sure if we’d tried to interview them, we would have got nowhere.
But still, I thought it was a sign of them trying to open up in their way, in an area that has been under such lockdown.