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Editorial: China should stop bullying foreign journalists

  • August 10, 2021
  • , Sankei , p. 2
  • JMH Translation

The U.S. government and the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China (FCCC) issued a statement expressing concern that foreign journalists covering the torrential rains in China’s Henan Province were harassed by local residents, including threats to kill them.


The harassment took place because the Chinese government has repeatedly “incited nationalism” via the state-run broadcaster etc. to stir up the public by strongly condemning the foreign press deemed “critical of China.”


The U.S. State Department pointed out that the Chinese government is “stirring up the people’s animosity and encouraging death threats against foreign journalists.” The Chinese government argues that the blame lies with “the ideologically biased foreign media,” but China’s folly in undermining press freedom and the safety of journalists cannot be overlooked.


In the city of Zhengzhou, Henan Province, where torrential rains in July caused flooding that killed many people, reporters from the U.S. and German media were surrounded by residents who grabbed their cameras and clothes.


According to the FCCC, a British BBC report on the Zhengzhou subway system, where many died in flooding, was criticized on the Chinese Internet for being “untrue.” The Communist Youth League of China, an organization of the Chinese Communist Party in the province, called on its followers on Weibo, a social networking service (SNS), to report the whereabouts of the BBC journalists. Residents apparently mistook the German and American journalists for BBC reporters. Several other reporters also received threatening phone calls and messages. 


Without specifying what errors were made in the BBC’s report, the Chinese government accused the BBC of “ignoring the fact that the government is doing all it can to provide relief and citizens are engaged in the rescue operation.” This is a totally misguided statement. In disaster reporting, it is important to convey the scale of the damage. That will also provide an opportunity for appropriate support to arrive from within and outside China.


The fact that the BBC was targeted by the Chinese government also raises doubts. When the British government revoked the license of China’s state-run international broadcaster in Feb this year, the Chinese government announced that it will prohibit BBC’s international programs from being broadcast in China. The Chinese government has also repeatedly condemned the BBC’s reporting on the suppression of the Uyghurs.


The U.S. State Department has urged the PRC to “act as a responsible nation, willing to welcome foreign media and people from around the world” for next year’s Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games. The Chinese government should realize that oppressing foreign media is an act that discredits the country.

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