China tightens grip on foreign reporters, warns not to ‘topple ruling party’

March 7th, 2011 - 2:55 pm ICT by ANI  

Beijing, Mar 7 (ANI): China has tightened its grip on foreign reporters after the revolution in the Middle East, with reports saying that a number of such journalists are being tracked, detained, and warned not to cause trouble or try to ‘topple the ruling party’.

A number of European and Japanese journalists were held into an underground bunkerlike room for two hours in Shanghai on Sunday after they tried to monitor the response to calls on an anonymous Internet site for Chinese citizens to conduct a “strolling” protest against the government outside the Peace Cinema, near People’s Square in the city, The New York Times reports.

Besides, several officers were found guarding the home of an American correspondent on Saturday night in Beijing after the journalist was severely beaten by security officers the previous week as he sought to cover a similar Internet-inspired protest there.

Security forces had also reportedly visited the homes of a dozen other journalists and photographers over the weekend, and repeatedly warned not to cause trouble or, as one officer put it, try to “topple the party.”

During the Olympic Games in August 2008, the government has initiated a relaxation of reporting rules for the foreign media, and removed the need for journalists to seek government permission for interviews.

However, that momentum has been reversed again, with a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry saying that journalists should not rely on the 2008 decree “as a shield.”

David Bandurski, an analyst at the China Media Project of the University of Hong Kong, said: “They have gone into control mode once again. What we are seeing now, in the short term, is China is closing in on itself, because it doesn’t have another answer or response.”

“Intimidation of journalists is the classic response. It is not necessarily entirely new, but it is something we have not seen for a long time,” he added. (ANI)

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