The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China (FCCC) expressed their dismay on Monday, Feb. 21, saying the media environment for foreign journalists during the Winter Olympics Games did not match expectations.
The FCCC statted, “The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China is dismayed that the conditions for independent reporting in China continue to fall short of international standards during the Winter Olympic Games.”
According to the FCCC statement, “After an Olympic ski event, a foreign reporter was prevented by a Beijing official from interviewing a Hong Kong athlete in the Games’ mixed zone, a space supposedly governed by international Olympic rules. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) later called the incident ‘an isolated’ case”.
“However, government interference occurred regularly during the Games, a symptom of the challenging operating environment for foreign media in China.”
The FCCC added, “Most visibly, a reporter with the Dutch national broadcaster NOS was hauled off camera during a live TV broadcast by plainclothes security men, despite the fact that he had been standing in a spot [where] police directed him to only minutes earlier.”
“Numerous reporters were told that all reporting in public areas must first be approved by Chinese authorities. Security officers in Beijing seemed particularly sensitive about reporters filming anything Olympic-related.”
According to the Press Club, “several journalists were also targeted by online harassment campaigns in response to Olympic-related stories they wrote. In some cases, these attacks were fueled by Chinese state media accounts and Chinese diplomats.”
Correspondent Sjoerd den Daas of NOS was broadcasting live from outside the Olympic “bubble” in Beijing during the opening ceremony when security forces caught him and pulled him away.
“Unfortunately, this is increasingly the daily reality for journalists in China,” NOS tweeted. It added that den Daas “is fine and could fortunately finish his story a few minutes later”.
The FCCC expressed, “the FCCC is disappointed that China has tightened conditions for the press, contrary to the Olympics spirit.”
The Press Club concluded, “The FCCC urges the Chinese authorities to uphold their own stated rules on accredited foreign press in China: namely, to allow journalists to book and conduct their own interviews without threat of state interference and to report freely in public areas. Unfortunately, neither rule was enforced at a time when global attention was trained on China more than ever.”