Chinese reporter arrested in connection with Hong Kong protest coverage

New York, October 14, 2014–The arrest of a Chinese reporter working for a German weekly is cause for alarm and signals a threat to other Chinese journalists working for foreign media in China, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Zhang Miao, an arts reporter for the German magazine Die Zeit, has been in jail since October 2 and was accused on Monday of “committing provocative activities and creating troubles.”

Zhang had helped Die Zeit in its coverage of recent protests in Hong Kong. She returned to Beijing on October 1, according to Die Zeit‘s China correspondent, Angela Köckritz. She was arrested the next day in the village where she lives. Köckritz wrote in Die Zeit that Zhang had been denied access to her lawyer and that her family was not told about the detention for days.

In a press conference on Monday, Hong Lei, a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, said Zhang, as a Chinese citizen working for a German outlet in Beijing, had not complied with the proper regulations. It is unclear whether she has been charged.

“To label Zhang Miao a provocateur or troublemaker and then jail her for skirting administrative guidelines is an indicator of the dire state of media policy under Chinese President Xi Jinping,” said Bob Dietz, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator. “Zhang should be released immediately.”

According to the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China, Chinese authorities have placed several restrictions on journalists reporting in China, and have forbidden Chinese citizens from working as reporters for foreign outlets. Foreign correspondents are able to hire Chinese citizens as assistants or drivers only through the state.

Thousands of protesters have taken to the streets of Hong Kong in recent weeks, calling for Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying to resign and for the Beijing government to back away from its plan to restrict candidates for the region’s 2017 elections. China has declared the protests to be illegal.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This alert has been modified to reflect the correct spelling of the weekly Die Zeit.