Press Freedom Curtailed Before Olympics

Geoffrey York, of The Globe and Mail, reports:

Foreign journalists and their sources in China are enduring a system of intimidation, obstruction, surveillance and even beatings and death threats, a new report says.

The 71-page report by Human Rights Watch, to be released today, says Chinese authorities have expanded the “forbidden zones” – sensitive regions and subjects that are off-limits to foreign journalists – even as it prepares for the Olympics.

In 2001, as it was bidding for the right to hold the Olympics, China promised the international media would enjoy “complete freedom to report when they come to China” for the Olympics.

Five years later, the Chinese government announced that foreign journalists could freely conduct interviews with any consenting Chinese citizen on any “political, economic, social and cultural matters” from Jan. 1, 2007 to Oct. 17, 2008.

Both of those promises have been repeatedly violated, and media freedom has deteriorated in China since mid-2007, according to the report by Human Rights Watch, an independent human-rights organization based in New York.

Read the Human Rights Watch report: China’s Forbidden Zones

Previously in CDT: Watchdog Warns of Risks to Media, Chinese Staff, Reporter’s Guide to China’s Olympics, As Games Approach, Chinese Renege on Promised Openness