December 17, 2018

Press Freedom

China

OPC Outraged at China’s Brutal Crackdown on Reporters

H.E. Hu Jintao
President
People’s Republic of China
Fax: (011.86.10.6) 512.5810

H.E. Wen Jiabao
Prime Minister
People’s Republic of China
Fax: (011.86.10.6) 512.5810

Your Excellencies:

We write to convey our outrage at your government’s actions in harassing and assaulting foreign journalists who were attempting to cover public events in China, and for putting substantial sections of Shanghai and Beijing off limits to journalists.  These are serious and intolerable violations of internationally recognized standards of freedom of expression.

According to the Foreign Correspondents Club of China, a Bloomberg News videographer was severely beaten and held for several hours last Sunday when he tried to cover a protest demonstration in the Beijing shopping district, Wangfujing.  More than a dozen reporters were turned back as they approached Wangfujing, and journalists from five news organizations said equipment had been confiscated and images forcibly destroyed.  People’s Square in Shanghai has also been declared a no-reporting zone.  The New York Times has reported that a Foreign Ministry spokesman defended the new restrictions as simply an effort to maintain order after anonymous calls for protests in 20 Chinese cities were posted on Internet sites.

Your Excellencies, as the departing U.S. Ambassador Jon Huntsman has stated, “This type of harassment and intimidation is unacceptable and deeply disturbing.”  Your people have the internationally respected right to peaceful demonstrations to protest what they see as violations of their rights, and journalists of any nation have the same right to report these events.  Your government’s actions are simply outrageous and indefensible.  China is a member of the United Nations, and has agreed to support Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  Let us remind you of its words: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”  Is any part of that unclear?

Journalists who succeeded in observing Sunday’s protests have reported that the demonstrators were far outnumbered by phalanxes of police and plainclothes officers, who harassed, assaulted and arrested many of those who had the courage to show up.  The Overseas Press Club of America, which has defended press freedom around the world for more than 70 years, suggests that this kind of overreaction and brutality betrays the fact that your government is deeply insecure and afraid of your own people.  You may be right to be afraid; as current events in the Arab world clearly show, it is increasingly difficult to suppress the desire for freedom shared by all peoples.  But if you truly believed that your policies benefit the people of China, you would have the confidence to allow them to express their own opinions of those policies.  With these actions, you are forfeiting the respect of your own citizens and the people of the world.

We would appreciate a reply.

Jeremy Main
Larry Martz
Kevin McDermott
Co-chairmen, Freedom of the Press Committee

cc:

H.E. Zhou Wenzhong
Ambassador of P.R.O.C. to the U.S.A.
Embassy of the People’s Republic of China
2300 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Washington, DC  20008
Fax: (202) 966.0631

Ambassador Zhang Yesui
Permanent Representative
Permanent Mission of the People’s Republic of China
to the United Nations
350 East 35 Street
New York, NY  10016
Fax: (212) 634.7626

H.E. Jon Huntsman
U.S. Ambassador to P.R.O.C.
Embassy of the United States of America
No. 55 An Jia Lou Lu
100600  Beijing
China
Fax: (011.86.10.6) 532.6929

Editor
China Daily
No. 15 Dongjie, Chaoyang District
Beijing  100029
China
Fax: (011.86.10) 84.88.36

Editor
People’s Daily
No. 2 Jintain Xilu, Chaovang District
Beijing 100733
China

Maria Otero
Under Secretary of State for Democracy
and Global Affairs
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC  20520