In case you have not seen fresh reports of violence and threats to those attempting to report from near Wenzhou in Zhejiang here is some information:
On the 16th of February a French television reporter and his assistant were stopped after they left a tollbooth about 20 kilometres from Panhe. Black cars were waiting for them there.
There was what appears to have been an orchestrated collision with another car. The reporter says it was “obviously 100% intentional”.
As soon as this “accident” occurred, 20 or so very young men appeared. They seized the assistant, who had been driving, and dragged him out of the car. They took the car keys and tried to snatch the reporter’s telephone.
The reporter was not deliberately struck but was hit accidentally. Instead, the group of thugs targeted his assistant who was assaulted.
A camera was smashed and the assistant was struck with a piece of equipment. His forehead and nose were bleeding. He received bruises on his face and knee.
The correspondent was prevented from reaching his assistant to offer assistance.
The incident lasted only a few minutes. Afterwards the young men went to the side of the road and lit up cigarettes.
The reporter hailed a police car which was passing by and the local police were said to be “kind and helpful”.
The reporter and assistant were taken to the police station at Longgang. The driver who initially hit their car told police that the collision was his responsibility.
The reporter asked that the driver pay him 40.000 RMB for the camera, his assistant’s broken glasses and medical expenses. He later received this money. In addition he asked the driver to pay for damages to his hire car.
Officers from the Cangnan Waiban arrived and apologized for what had happened to them. They said the young men were from Panhe, that they were supporters of the government there and that they were upset that foreign reporters were flocking to their village to cover recent events at the town.
The reporter believes, whoever this group of thugs were, that they behaved in an organized fashion and appeared to have been placed at a strategic location to ambush journalists attempting to enter the area.
There was an agreement signed by the driver regarding the 40.000 RMB payment. The correspondent was not given a copy but was able to photograph this.
Police gave the reporter’s car rental company in Wenzhou the money for repairs.
The reporter and his assistant were then accompanied to the airport by police.
The police had already booked the return tickets while discussions were taking place at their station.
Before the flight, they were invited to dinner by the Wenzhou Waiban who apologized for the incident.
The reporter did not request any further investigation into the attack because he “just wanted to get out as quickly as possible.”