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Sunday, December 03, 2006

China to Allow More Freedom to Journalists from Abroad

According to Edward Cody of the Washington Post, the promised freedom of the press during the 2008 Olympics is far from a fait accompli. It remains to be seen whether the CCP will live up to their word. Do they ever?

Washington Post Excerpt: A manual published by the Public Security Ministry and handed out to Beijing police, who are studying English in preparation for the Olympics, contained a dialogue making clear how ministry officials believe reporting should be approached. It described a hypothetical situation in which a policeman comes upon a foreign reporter inquiring about Falun Gong:

"But Falun Gong has nothing to do with the games," the policeman says.

"What does that matter?" the reporter replies.

"It's beyond the permit."

"What permit?"

"You're a sports reporter. You should only cover the games."

"But I'm interested in Falun Gong."

"It's beyond the limit of your coverage and illegal. As a foreign reporter in China, you should obey China law and do nothing against your status."

"Oh, I see. May I go now?"

"No. Come with us."

A Beijing policeman said the manual was distributed to him and his colleagues, along with a tape recording of the various dialogues, as practice material to supplement three-month-long formal English courses that have been underway since 2002.

Asked how that fit in with the new rules, Liu said that in the coming month there will be briefings on the changes for Chinese government departments, including the Public Security Ministry and provincial, municipal and county propaganda officials who routinely seek to impede coverage of news in their areas. Beginning Jan. 1, those officials will no longer have the right to detain foreign reporters seeking to interview people, he said, and the Foreign Ministry can be called on to intercede if they try.

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