In addition to the vicious assault on a Bloomberg journalist, the FCCC has confirmed that journalists from 15 other news organizations experienced serious interference on February 27 in Beijing’s Wangfujing area.
There appeared to be a number of new obstacles and tactics employed to prevent journalists from doing their work in accordance with Chinese law. Some governments have lodged official complaints.
The following is a preliminary list of confirmed incidents:
Assault: One journalist severely beaten, two more physically injured.
Manhandling: Reporters from six organizations.
Destruction of reporting material/confiscation of equipment: Five organizations
Detentions: Nine organizations, with detentions ranging from 30 minutes to over four hours.
The FCCC has been analyzing the most severe cases of manhandling and assault in Beijing, and some patterns have emerged. The tactics appeared to be well orchestrated. In several cases small groups of thugs suddenly appeared and grabbed journalists holding cameras. Several of those journalists were dragged out of sight and brought into shops or alleys where the thugs tried to take their equipment.
Some journalists were told Wangfujing and several other areas in Beijing, including Xidan, Tiananmen, and Beijing Station, are considered “special zones” and journalists who wish to report in these areas must apply in advance. The Wangfujing Management and Construction Office told one journalist it takes three days to process official application letters, and journalists must promise to submit a copy of the finished story after it is released. The Wangfujing Management and Construction Office senior officer is Xie Qingdong (Tel: 6537 4688, Mb: 1350 112 8067).
In Shanghai the Entry-Exit bureau called in some reporting organizations today and asked them to sign a pledge stating they would not film or photograph in the “no reporting” zone outside of the Peace Cinema, the site of the Shanghai “Jasmine” gatherings. They were told if they persisted in reporting, they would be dealt with according to the law.
The FCCC is continuing to monitor the situation, and plans to organize a session on safe reporting. If you or a journalist in your organization experienced interference we would appreciate hearing from you. You may send an email to the FCCC by hitting reply, or fill out an online “interference incident” reporting form at https://www.surveymonkey.com/