China restricts media access to Tiananmen Square

August 5th, 2008 - 6:30 pm ICT by IANS  

Beijing, Aug 5 (DPA) China has imposed restrictions on the access of Chinese and foreign media to Beijing’s sensitive Tiananmen Square, requiring them to apply in advance to film or conduct interviews there, the city government said Tuesday. “To maintain a good order of reporting activities at the square, Chinese and foreign journalists are advised to make telephone appointments with the Administration Committee of Tiananmen Area,” said a notice posted on the official website of the Beijing government.

The notice suggested that the new requirement was introduced because of the use of the square for Olympic-related events expected to draw large crowds.

“During the Beijing Olympic Games, one large-scale cultural event would be held each day at Tiananmen Square,” it said.

“A large number of people would come to the square and enjoy the events,” it said.

China has introduced temporary rules allowing foreign journalists to interview any Chinese citizen who accepts a request before and during the games.

But officials have also warned many Beijing residents to avoid discussing sensitive subjects with foreign media.

Tiananmen Square was the prime site of the 1989 pro-democracy protests, which ended after the ruling Communist Party ordered tanks and troops into the square, in a crackdown that is believed to have cost several hundred lives.

Rights groups and families of victims continue to urge the government to investigate and make a full report of the Tiananmen crackdown.

In recent years, many petitioners from outside Beijing have tried to stage protests in the square.

The government has tightened security and introduced regulations sepcifically for the square in the run-up to the Olympics.

Security guards and paramilitary police check the identities and seach the bags of everyone entering the square.

Members of three to five families staged a small protest near Tiananmen Square Monday to voice dissatisfaction over housing compensation, state media said.

State media said the police ended the protest about 30 minutes after the families began talking to foreign reporters at the redeveloped Qianmen commercial area to the south of the square.

The Beijing Olympic organising committee, BOCOG, arranged a group tour of the square Tuesday afternoon for foreign Olympic reporters.

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