Thank you to all the correspondents who have shared information with us after their meeting with the PSB. Here is a summary of what we have been told.
*Dozens of journalists in Beijing and Shanghai have been called to meetings/interrogations with the PSB since Sunday. The authorities appear to be working through a list of names/bureaus whose details were recorded at protest sites on Sunday. If you were called in and you were not at a protest site or didn’t register, please let us know.
*The meetings are videotaped by police while reporters are not allowed to record.
*The set up is like a formal interrogation, with a lead PSB officer, a foreign affairs officer and a translator.
*Each session has been slightly different but they follow a common theme — the reporter has broken the Chinese regulations, officials know about it and the journalist will face consequences if he/she does it again. Those consequences include being arrested/detained until the visa or work permit is canceled.
*Journalists have repeatedly asked if China’s reporting rules have changed and been told “No, they’ve always been like this.”
*Journalists are being told the requirement to obtain permission prior to reporting in open spaces applies to all of China.
*In some cases, reporters have been accused of trying to help stir up a revolution, disrupt harmony in China and simply cause trouble.
*The tone of meetings has ranged from cordial and professional to angry and uncomfortable. It seems those who pointed out a shift in reporting regulations were met with different responses, but no such shift has yet been acknowledged.
(These new restrictions appear to be a roll-back of the reporting regulations made permanent in October 2008, which state simply that journalists must seek permission from organizations or individuals before interviewing (Article 17 of Regulation 347, which can be found at the International Press Centre website at http://ipc.fmprc.gov.cn/eng/). The police deny that the restrictions on Wangfujing or anywhere else constitute a new interpretation of the reporting regulations.)
*Other journalists have been told the PSB is now in charge of the situation, while regular handlers have little authority over reporters.
*No one has been been granted permission to report at Wangfujing this Sunday.
Separately, the Dongcheng district website has published on its website regulations covering Wangfujing, that prohibit interviewing, photographing, or causing people to congregate. The full text of these new regulations can be found at:
In Shanghai, journalists have been similarly warned against reporting from an area near the Peace Cinema, adjacent to People’s Square.
These warnings by the police come after a series of incidents on Sunday, including the beating of one journalist and manhandling, detention or other interference in reporting for least 16 other news organizations. Two other reporters were also injured. Journalists with television or still cameras were particularly targeted.
The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China takes these developments very seriously and urges journalists to do so as well. Please keep safety in mind, and take the following precautions:
- Do not expose your Chinese assistants to danger
- Do not be provoked into a confrontation, whether with police or with plainclothes men.
- Try not to work alone or get separated from your crewmembers
- Carry your reporting credentials
- If accosted, try to avoid being cornered out of view; try to move to an open public space and shout for help
We will try to update you as we learn of new developments. Your input is much appreciated.