China - Beijing Olympics - With files on journalists, more propaganda and control over news agencies, Beijing is breaking all promises to IOC



    BEIJING, China, Nov. 13 /CNW Telbec/ - Reporters Without Borders today
condemned recent decisions by the Chinese authorities to create files on
foreign journalists, reinforce Olympic Games propaganda efforts and reject any
possibility of increased access for foreign news agencies to the Chinese
market.
    As a result of an outcry, the authorities have now denied the existence
of any such files and are blaming a "bad journalist" employed by the state
media. But everything suggests that the government is compiling files on many
journalists and human rights activists in the run-up to the Beijing Olympics.
    "After the Communist Party of China congress, we had been hoping for
significant measures to improve press freedom before the Olympics," Reporters
Without Borders said. "Instead, the government and organisers of the games
have decided keep files on foreign journalists, supposedly in order to
identify 'fake' ones. Keeping files on journalists opens the way for every
kind of abuse."
    The press freedom organisation added: "We are also outraged by the
Propaganda Department's orders to the Chinese media about coverage of
preparations for the games. This dashes our hopes of greater editorial freedom
in the run-up to next August. When the organisers of the games and the Beijing
authorities misbehave in this manner, the International Olympic Committee
should react and should firmly remind them of the undertakings given in 2001."
    The Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported that the Propaganda
Department last week sent a directive to the leading Chinese news media asking
them to avoid publishing negative stories on matters affecting the games such
as air pollution, a dispute over Taiwan's inclusion in the Olympic torch
relay, and public health issues.
    The government newspaper China Daily meanwhile reported that the
authorities, in particular the General Administration of Press and
Publications (GAPP) was compiling files on the approximately 30,000
journalists expected to get accreditation for the games.
    The official reason given was the need to identify "fake journalists" and
to help Chinese officials respond to interview requests. But the government
has not said what kind of information will be gathered. The GAPP has been
campaigning against "fake journalists," accusing them of being a "threat to
society," and Liu Binjie, the minister in charge of the GAPP, has promised
they will be severely punished.
    A campaign was launched in August against "fake journalists" who use
bogus accreditation with foreign news media, including Hong Kong media, to
practise extortion and disinformation. Reporters Without Borders is aware of
four recent cases of arrests of "fake journalists." The most recent case was
this week in the northeastern province of Liaoning, where those arrested were
two of the editors of The Social News, a newspaper regarded by the authorities
as illegal. It is very hard to independently verify the facts when the
authorities accuse journalists or news media of being fake.
    The authorities have just announced that this campaign, which is due to
continue until March, has netted 150 "fake journalists" and 300 unlicensed
news media. Several independent journalists and Chinese intellectuals have
condemn a new crackdown on journalists who are not directly affiliated to any
news organisation or to China's sole official journalists union.
    Finally, the authorities have refused to relax the regulations on foreign
news agencies operating inside the country. In response to questions by the
European Union, Canada, Japan and the United States before the Word Trade
Organisation, China said yesterday that it had not signed any provision
requiring it to open up the business news market.
    When the government reinforced the state news agency Xinhua's control
over the distribution of foreign news agency content in China in September
2006, Reporters Without Borders described Xinhua as a predator of free
enterprise and the freedom to report the news.




For further information:

For further information: Emily Jacquard, secretary general, Reporters
Without Borders Canada, (514) 521-4111, Cell: (514) 258-4208, Fax: (514)
521-7771, rsfcanada@rsf.org

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