Topic: human rights
"Rowan Callick, China correspondent | May 08, 2008
DEATH threats against foreign correspondents and official statements demonising Western media risk creating a hostile environment for foreign journalists based in China and for tens of thousands of other media staff arriving to cover the Beijing Olympic Games.
This was a warning issued by the Foreign Correspondents Club of China this week, 100 days ahead of the opening of the Games.
But the warning prompted an outpouring of anonymous attacks onforeign journalists in the online forum of the Global Times, the popular sister publication owned by the Communist Party's flagship newspaper, People's Daily.
The FCCC revealed that at least 10 foreign correspondents have received anonymous death threats "during a campaign on the web and in state-run media, against alleged bias in Western media coverage of the Tibetan unrest and its aftermath".
The organisations that have received death threats include the BBC and CNN.
The introduction of new regulations for the Olympic period, freeing travel and interviewing restrictions within China until October, "represented an improvement in reporting conditions", said the club, which represents more than 800 accredited foreign journalists based in China.
But the FCCC said that in the past two months, since the unrest began in Lhasa, it has learned of more than 50incidents of interference in the work of international media trying to report in communities in the greater Tibet area.
It said: "Foreign correspondents have been detained, prevented from conducting interviews, searched and subjected to the confiscation or destruction of reporting materials.
"Authorities have intimidated Chinese sources and staff, and in some cases ordered them to inform on foreign correspondents' activities."
If this is allowed to continue, said FCCC president Melinda Liu, Newsweek's China bureau chief, "the reporting interference and hate campaigns targeting international media may poison the pre-Games atmosphere for foreign journalists".
She urged the Government to investigate the death threats, "which violate Chinese law".
But police have been reluctant to pursue such complaints.
The club urged Beijing to make good on its commitments, made public in 2002, to "be open in every aspect to the rest of the country and the whole world" and "to follow international standards and criteria" before and during the Games.
Recent comments in the Global Times online forum, a popular gathering place for extreme nationalists, include several quoting a song from a patriotic 1950s film on the Korean War: "When friends come, I bring out good liquor, when the jackals come I bring out the hunting rifle."
* "China doesn't like people who become enemies. Kick them out. If they won't leave, annihilate them. To hit the enemy is to protect oneself."
* "These beasts are as annoying as hell, f..king chattering all day. These bastards make one want to throw up. I strongly advocate tossing them into the Taiwan Strait to fill it up. They're like flies. Disgusting. Are these half-breeds trying to sicken Chinese people to death?"
* "When the eight united armiesinvaded China (in 1900, after their citizens were murdered during the Boxer Rebellion), they made China pay indemnities. Even today, foreign devils dream of doing the same thing!"
* "Their statement exemplifies the bias resulting from Eurocentric brainwashing. Now that the sons and daughters of China have stepped out into the world to express their feelings about the 100 years of shame (before the 1949 revolution), we're being made into the enemy. This is aclassic case of the bandit crying:'Thief!"'
* "We 1.3 billion Chinese have nothing to fear from threats by shameless Western journalists, we won't tolerate their smears and slanders against China."