Covid-19 a widespread excuse to bar foreign correspondents from reporting in China

In its latest annual report, Foreign Correspondents' Club of China (FCCC) denounces the massive use by the Chinese regime of Covid-19 as an excuse to bar foreign correspondents from reporting on the field.

In its 2022 report published on 1st March, 2023, Foreign Correspondents' Club of China (FCCC) denounced the barriers faced by foreign journalists reporting in the country last year, including abusive zero-Covid policy restrictions. The report, which is based on 102 FCCC members’ responses to a survey, highlights that 46% of journalists have been prevented from reporting in the field due to the alleged health and safety grounds despite presenting “no health risk by China’s own standards”.

“The presence of foreign correspondents is indispensable for the world to understand China, and the international community just cannot allow the government to become the only source of information in the country. Democracies should keep building up pressure on the Chinese regime so that they end their relentless harassment of foreign correspondents and their sources.

Cédric Alviani
RSF East Asia Bureau head

Visa weaponisation remains the main tool for Chinese officials to prevent foreign journalists from reporting in the country: more than half of the media surveyed (56%) didn't receive visas for their correspondents in 2022. Physical surveillance is still a common practice, as shown by the 57% of foreign journalists who testify having been visibly followed during reporting. A vast majority of foreign correspondents also fear their WeChat communications might have been monitored (85%) while over a third worry their internet accounts might have been compromised (36%). 

Accessing Chinese sources is also increasingly difficult: last year, more than two-thirds of correspondents (78%) were told by potential interviewees that they were not allowed to speak to them or that they needed prior permission.

Over the past decade, Xi Jinping tightened the regime’s control of Chinese state media while initiating a violent clampdown on independent journalists and increasing intimidation and surveillance of foreign correspondents. In 2021, RSF published an unprecedented investigative report entitled ‘The Great Leap Backwards of Journalism in China’, which reveals the extent of his campaign against journalism and the right to information worldwide.

China ranks 175th out of 180 in the 2022 RSF World Press Freedom Index and is the world's largest captor of journalists with at least 114 detained.

179/ 180
Score : 22.97
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