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Visitors look at CCTV cameras at the Security China 2018 exhibition on public safety and security in Beijing on October 24, 2018. In a 2018 survey, foreign correspondents in China listed surveillance as their top concern. (Thomas Peter/Reuters)

Surveillance tops foreign correspondents' concerns in China, FCCC finds

By Iris Hsu/CPJ China Correspondent on January 29, 2019 11:29 AM ET

Working conditions for foreign correspondents in China further deteriorated in 2018, according to the Foreign Correspondents' Club of China annual survey. The report, "Under Watch: FCCC Annual Working Conditions Report 2018," highlights growing digital and human surveillance, as well as government interference in reporting in China.

"What correspondents in China experienced in 2018 shows that authorities are becoming more sophisticated in their use of surveillance," FCCC president Hanna Sahlberg said in the report. "There is a risk that even foreign media will shy away from stories that are perceived as too troublesome, or costly, to tell in China. These trends run contrary to the FCCC's hopes for real openness for foreign media to be able to cover China."

The FCCC annual report highlighted journalists' challenging experiences reporting in Xinjiang and other sensitive locations. Of 26 foreign correspondents who traveled to Xinjiang, 23 reported being followed and surveilled while there. The report also found increased concerns about sources and Chinese employees of foreign press organizations facing harassment and intimidation; staff who do not work in news gathering were also targeted by authorities.

Threats of expulsion and visa denial have intensified as Chinese officials track foreign journalists' reporting, urging them to only report positively on the country, according to the report.

The full report can be seen here.

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