Foreign journalists in China faced in 2022 more controls and restrictions when hedging due to the iron policy of ‘covid zero’, in force until the end of last year, according to the annual report of the China Foreign Press Correspondents Club (FCCC).
“It’s been another tough and exhausting year. The controls for the ‘zero covid’ demolished the media coverage already low in morale and with reduced staff due to the expulsions of journalists and the delays in receiving new visas”, according to the report, published this Wednesday.
The club adds that the correspondents traveled less in 2022: “Last year, We didn’t get a chance to cover China in depth due to covid restrictions.”
The journalists also point out that although the controls due to the covid have been lifted -which included quarantines, limitations on mobility or the obligation to carry out daily PCR tests-, other restrictions remain in force.
Among them, the “police obstruction” at the time of reporting or cancellation of interviews at the last minute due to pressure from the authorities.
The club also denounces the “harassment” to foreign journalists during the Winter Olympic Gameswhich took place in February 2022, and during the 20th Congress of the Communist Party (CCP) in October.
Regarding the latter, the club assures that many reputable media ultimately did not have access to any of the events they wanted to cover.
The FCCC also denounces “restrictions, obstructions and intimidation” during the protests at the end of last year against the zero covid policy.
For example, at the end of November, a journalist from the British network BBC was arrested in Shanghai (east) after being “hit and kicked” by police officers while filming the wave of protests against anti-covid policies.
Another informant reports that the police temporarily detained a Chinese employee of a foreign media outlet for being “allegedly involved” in groups on the Telegram social network in which the protests were discussed.
So the club too alert of an increase in surveillance technologies as well as pressure and threats against those who speak to foreign media: “The list of people who are explicitly prohibited from speaking to the foreign press is simply too long to remember. It ranges from employees of state companies to doctors, workers and academics”, denounced a correspondent in the report.
On the other hand, many media are still waiting for the granting of press accreditations, to which must be added the geopolitical tensions that, in some cases, can alter the visa processing process, according to the FCCC.
“In 2023, the prospects that the pending procedures will be resolved are quite limited. For example, negotiations between the US and China to grant new visas to reporters working for US media have stalled. Uncertainty complicates the media’s ability to report on a complex country already difficult to cover ”, indicates the club.
“China remains one of the most important stories of our time, and yet since the pandemic began, press freedom has declined at a very rapid rate,” the report concludes.
(With information from EFE)
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