How free are reporters, the media in China?

Rules that gave foreign reporters greater freedom during the Beijing Olympics are due to expire. The BBC asked a range of reporters in China what difference the rules have made to their working lives.

By James Miles
The Economist and the BBC
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“It was mainly a psychological difference, we had been widely flouting the rules before, leaving Beijing to report in the provinces without seeking advance approval as was officially required.

“So when the new regulations were introduced, we were still travelling just as much but without the fear of the knock on the door by the police, without the need to change from hotel to hotel to remain under the radar screen.

“But we were still frequently encountering local officials who either didn’t know or said they didn’t know about the new Olympic regulations or were determined to ignore them.

nervous policeman in Tiananmen Square
Chinese policemen used to be nervous of foreign journalists

“There was one remarkable incident, shortly after the new regulations were introduced early last year, when I went to Henan province.

“As I expected, I was stopped by local officials. But I called the Foreign Ministry in Beijing, and remarkably, the local officials apologised to me and disappeared, leaving me with startled villagers who said this was the first time they’d ever managed to openly speak with foreign journalists.

“But since then, I’ve encountered the same kind of difficulties as before the regulations. A few days ago, I was out in the western region of Xinjiang, and was detained for several hours by local police.

“There are key parts in the country that remain very difficult to get into, and the most obvious one is Tibet. Tibet wasn’t mentioned specifically in the Olympic regulations, in theory they apply to the whole of China, but orally Chinese officials said Tibet remained excluded and we still had to seek permission.”

Read the rest:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7676013.stm

Chinese paramilitary policeman
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