Harassment of Foreign Journalists in the People’s Republic of China

By John Clise

U.S. concerns have been growing over the treatment of journalists covering news in China, which has led to barbs between the two countries.

China has expelled several American journalist from the country, while the U.S. has cutback the number of Chinese nationals allowed to work at the U.S. offices of major Chinese state-owned media.

The State Department has noted it’s concern over the treatment of journalists covering the recent floods in the in Henan province this month. Journalists have been harassed, threatened, and accosted in their efforts to cover the situation.

The current concerns also set off another set of concerns as China is set to host the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games.

 Some US lawmakers have called for the 2022 Winter Olympics to be moved from China amidst growing tensions between the two countries.

Ned Price, State Department spokesperson released the following statement:

“The United States is deeply concerned with the increasingly harsh surveillance, harassment, and intimidation of U.S. and other foreign journalists in the People’s Republic of China (PRC), including foreign journalists covering the devastation and loss of life caused by recent floods in Henan. The U.S. government reiterates the condolences of the American people to all those affected.

The PRC government claims to welcome foreign media and support their work, but its actions tell a different story. Its harsh rhetoric, promoted through official state media, toward any news it perceives to be critical of PRC policies, has provoked negative public sentiment leading to tense, in-person confrontations and harassment, including online verbal abuse and death threats of journalists simply doing their jobs. Foreign journalists are increasingly refused visas to enter or remain in the PRC, severely limiting the quantity and quality of independent reporting on important issues. We call on the PRC to act as a responsible nation hoping to welcome foreign media and the world for the upcoming Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games.

In her July 26 meetings with PRC officials in Tianjin, Deputy Secretary Sherman specifically raised the importance of media access, freedom from harassment, and press freedom. We call on PRC officials to ensure that journalists remain safe and able to report freely.”

 According to the 2021 World Press Freedom Index from Reporters Without Borders, China is one of the worst countries for journalists to work in, and preform their duties.

China ranks 177 out of 180 countries covered the World Press Freedom Index. The U.S. currently rests at 44th place.

China stacks up as one the worst countries in the world for journalists to work with a long history of cracking down on media outlets and journalists.

In 2021, to date, worldwide, 19 journalists and 4 media assistants have been killed. In 2021, to date, world wide, 323 journalists, 101 citizen journalists, and 13 media assistants have been imprisoned, according to Reporters Without Borders.

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