In its annual report published on 1st March 2021, the Foreign Correspondents' Club of China (FCCC) highlighted the intensification of the regime’s harassment of foreign journalists and their sources throughout the Covid-19 crisis. The report, based on 150 responses to a survey of the club members, specifically denounced an increased use of visa weaponisation which led to the expulsion of at least 18 foreign correspondents in the first half of 2020.
“In recent years, Chinese regime apparatus has come to consider foreign correspondents as unwanted witnesses and goes to great lengths to prevent them from collecting information that doesn't mirror its propaganda”, says Cédric Alviani, RSF East Asia bureau head. “In this period of the pandemic, transparency can save lives and democracies must increase pressure on the Chinese regime for it to respect their right to access unbiased information.”
In the FCCC report, based on 150 of its members’ survey responses, journalists stated interference from the authorities (60%), intimidation attempts on their Chinese personnel (59%), physical surveillance (40%) and harassment on their sources (40%). Additionally, at least 90% of respondents who traveled last year to the autonomous regions of Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia experienced obstruction.
China ranked 177th out of 180 in the 2020 RSF World Press Freedom Index and is the world’s largest captor of journalists with at least 121 detained, often in life-threatening conditions.