Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jieche greets U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Beijing. (AFP/Jim Watson)
Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jieche greets U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Beijing. (AFP/Jim Watson)

Clinton must speak up for international press in China

New York, September 4, 2012–U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton should press Chinese officials in meetings this week to allow international journalists based in China greater access to news events and fewer restrictions of their coverage, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. 

Clinton is scheduled to meet with high-ranking government officials, including President Hu Jintao, his likely successor, Xi Jinping, and Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, to discuss territorial disputes in the South China Sea, among other issues, according to international news reports. The meetings are scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday.

“We’re hearing increasingly from international journalists who have been obstructed, attacked, and detained while trying to cover events in China,” said Bob Dietz, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator. “We ask Secretary Clinton to bring these concerns to the attention of the Chinese leadership because constructive international dialogue is dependent on a free flow of information overseas.”

Several international journalists have been obstructed in China this year, according to CPJ research. Authorities censored the U.S.-based Bloomberg news agency for reporting on the vice president’s family and its financial assets, and Al-Jazeera English correspondent Melissa Chan was forced to leave Beijing when her reporting credentials were not renewed. International journalists are also subjected to intense and sometimes organized harassment on the Internet.

International journalists have spoken out against obstruction. The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China, the Shanghai Foreign Correspondents’ Club, and the Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Hong Kong circulated a joint statement by email on August 20 citing four incidents of harassment against international reporters. Unnamed journalists from Poland and the United States, as well as employees of Japan’s Asahi Shimbun, Hong Kong’s Asia Television and ARD German television, were assaulted or detained while reporting between July 28 and August 13, according to the statement. CPJ has not independently confirmed the incidents.

More than 20 German journalists wrote to Chancellor Angela Merkel on August 26 about the deteriorating conditions for the press in China, according to news reports.

Domestic journalists face even worse restrictions and often rely on the foreign press to publicize content that is banned at home, according to CPJ research.

  • For more data and analysis on China, visit CPJ’s China page here.