DHARAMSALA, 2 March: China has used the pandemic as yet another way to control journalists, the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China (FCCC) has said as it called out China for China expelling the largest number of foreign journalists in three decades.
“Chinese authorities dramatically stepped-up efforts in 2020 to frustrate the work of foreign correspondents. All arms of state power – including surveillance systems introduced to curb coronavirus – were used to harass and intimidate journalists, their Chinese colleagues, and those whom the foreign press sought to interview,” the report said.
As a result, Beijing has expelled 18 correspondents from the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post, the largest since the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989 the press group said in their annual report based on 150 of its 220 members.
It marked the third year in a row where not a single Beijing-based journalists reporting on China for audiences around the world told the group that working conditions had improved, the FCCC added.
The report further stated that Beijing employed “all arms of state power – including surveillance systems introduced to curb coronavirus – to harass and intimidate journalists, their Chinese colleagues, and those whom the foreign press sought to interview.”
China has however dismissed the report. “We have never acknowledged this organisation you mentioned,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin has said at a daily press briefing while responding to the FCCC report.
“The so-called ‘report” is based on preconceptions rather than facts in an attempt to sensationalise and scare. I’d like to stress that China is a country governed by law. Anyone in China must abide by Chinese laws,” he said.
The FCCC consist of accredited journalists, diplomats, media specialists, authors, academics, public relations consultants and corporate personnel.