The Beijing-based Foreign Correspondents Club of China (FCCC) released a report today saying the Chinese government is using anti-Epidemic measures, intimidation and visa restrictions to crack down on foreign media coverage in 2020. The report said that the Chinese government has used anti-epidemic measures, intimidation and visa restrictions to suppress foreign media coverage in 2020, resulting in a “sharp decline in media freedom.
The annual report, based on a survey of the organization’s 150 members, shows that foreign journalists working in China continue to face tough conditions, with no journalists reporting improved working conditions for the third year in a row, Reuters reported.
The report notes that all state powers in China, including the epidemic prevention system to contain the Wuhan pneumonia (novel coronavirus disease, COVID-19) outbreak, are being used to harass and intimidate journalists, their Chinese colleagues, and those whom foreign journalists try to interview.
The Chinese government has denied journalists access to sensitive areas and threatened them with quarantine, citing public health concerns, and the Chinese side has used the issuance of visas to pressure journalists, the report said.
At least 13 foreign journalists were granted visas valid for six months or less, the FCCC said. Foreign journalists based in China are usually granted visas for one year and must renew them once a year.
The FCCC also mentioned that foreign journalists are also used by China as “hostages” in diplomatic disputes.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin called the report “baseless” at a press conference Monday. He said China welcomes journalists from all over the world to “report on Chinese news in accordance with the law” but opposes biased content and fake news in the name of press freedom.