Mandatory quarantines and veto of correspondents: what are the restrictions for the press that will cover the annual session of the Chinese Parliament

Policemen march through Tiananmen Square, near the Great Hall of the People, which will host the annual session of Congress, in Beijing (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

The annual session of the Chinese legislature (National People’s Assembly), the most important political event of the year in the Asian country, opens this Sunday in Beijing under anti-covid measures and with a limited presence of reporters.

To cover the events, journalists will have to keep a quarantine in a hotel designated by the organization since the previous day, despite the fact that China has already practically dismantled the “zero COVID” policy that it maintained for almost three years.

Besides, reporters will have to undergo a PCR test the day before its coverage, which contrasts with the withdrawal two months ago of the requirements for routine PCR tests for the population to access all public places, which were part of the “zero COVID” policy for much of 2022.

The prevention measures of the conclave, which will conclude on March 13, are similar to those implemented during the legislative meetings of recent years and the 20th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP, ruling), organized last October.

In addition, several European journalists have not received authorization to attend the inauguration that will take place this Sunday at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing despite having an accreditation, denounced some reporters based in the Chinese capital.

Preparations for the annual session of the Chinese Parliament (REUTERS/Thomas Peter)
Preparations for the annual session of the Chinese Parliament (REUTERS/Thomas Peter) (THOMAS PETER/)

The situation contrasts with the presence of several dozen reporters who came from other countries expressly to cover the event and who have traveled to the Asian country invited by the authorities and in some cases with all expenses paid.

The growth objective for the next financial year after dismantling the “zero COVID”, the appointment of a new prime minister or the foreign policy slogans after the latest scuffles with the US will be some of the issues that will focus the attention of the political meeting.

This week, the China Foreign Press Correspondents Club (FCCC) said in a report that foreign correspondents in China faced in 2022 more restrictions when making coverage due to the strict “COVID zero” policy.

The club also denounced the “harassment” of foreign journalists during the Winter Olympic Games, which took place in February 2022. Regarding the latter, the club ensures that many accredited media ultimately did not have access to any of the events they wanted to cover.

President Xi Jinping (REUTERS/Thomas Peter)
President Xi Jinping (REUTERS/Thomas Peter) (THOMAS PETER/)

Regarding Taiwan, the deputy Li Yihu indicated that he would present proposals to promote the “civil exchanges” with Taiwana democratic island that the beijing regime considered part of its territory. Li recalled that “Beijing’s global strategy to resolve the Taiwan issue” has been strengthened in the past year, adding that “Mainland China will speed up national unification.”

Regarding the birth rate, several deputies want to present proposals to promote it in the country. Among them, the free education until the end of university for all children born after 2024, or the extension of maternity leave -until now reserved for full-time employees- to self-employed businesswomen and peasant women. It also contemplates granting unmarried women the same rights as married women and lifting restrictions on registering children born out of wedlock in the civil registry.

For his part, the deputy zhao wanping wants to fight the killing cats and dogs, as well as against the trade and consumption of their meat.

(With information from EFE and AFP)

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