Informazioni che faticano a trovare spazio

Cina, intimidazioni a giornalisti esteri

La Cina ora tratta i giornalisti esteri come i dissidenti. Una dozzina di reporter sono stati oggi fermati per alcune ore a Shanghai. Intimidazioni anche a Pechino. L’articolo del  New York times del 6.3.2011:

China Tracks Foreign Journalists

Published: March 6, 2011

BEIJING — Western journalists have lately been tolerated in China, if grudgingly, but the spread of revolution in the Middle East has prompted the authorities here to adopt a more familiar tack: suddenly, foreign reporters are being tracked and detained in the same manner — though hardly as roughly — as political dissidents.

On Sunday, about a dozen European and Japanese journalists in Shanghai were herded into an underground bunker-like room and kept for two hours after they sought to monitor the response to calls on an anonymous Internet site for Chinese citizens to conduct a “strolling” protest against the government outside the Peace Cinema, near Peace Square in Shanghai.

In Beijing, several plainclothes officers planted themselves on Saturday night outside the home of a Bloomberg News correspondent who was severely beaten by security officers the previous week as he sought to cover a similar Internet-inspired protest there. In a telephone interview, the correspondent said that seven officers in two separate cars had trailed him to a basketball game on Sunday, recording his trip on video the entire time.

A dozen other foreign journalists based in Beijing, as well as their researchers and photographers, were visited in their homes over the weekend and repeatedly warned not to cause trouble — or, as one officer put it, try to “topple the party.”

The intimidation of foreign journalists is a marked shift for the Chinese authorities and a sign of the government’s resolve to head off any antigovernment revolts like those that have swept the Middle East and North Africa during the past two months.

Anonymous Chinese-language posts on the Internet have called for people to show their discontent with the central government by taking a “stroll” at 2 p.m. every Sunday outside well- known locations in Beijing, Shanghai and several dozen other cities. Efficient mobilization of the nation’s extensive security apparatus has helped ensure that no protests have materialized.

Indeed, the news has been limited to the government’s crackdown on the foreign media. The August 2008 Olympics initiated a relaxation of reporting rules for the foreign media, culminating in a decree signed by Premier Wen Jiabao that essentially removed the need for journalists to seek government permission for interviews.

But the past 10 days have reversed that momentum. Indeed, a spokeswoman for the Foreign Ministry warned journalists on Thursday that they should not rely on the 2008 decree “as a shield.”

David Bandurski, an analyst at the China Media Project of the University of Hong Kong, said: “They have gone into control mode once again. What we are seeing now, in the short term, is China is closing in on itself, because it doesn’t have another answer or response.”

He added: “Intimidation of journalists is the classic response. It is not necessarily entirely new, but it is something we have not seen for a long time.”

Over the weekend, the police called or visited more than a dozen foreign journalists at their homes, including reporters and photographers for The New York Times, The Associated Press, CNN and Bloomberg News. One person said he received a knock on his door as early as 5:30 a.m. on Sunday. Another was not home when a police officer called, but a child who answered the phone was reportedly interrogated.

A third said an officer told him that the Public Security Ministry’s Guobao — or domestic security arm — was in charge of the operation to keep foreign journalists in line. That department also keeps track of dissidents.

“In 10 years living in these parts, this kind of unannounced call was a first,” said the reporter, who refused to be identified for fear of retaliation.

Journalists were told to abide by the rules and warned not to report on protests. Several journalists said over Twitter that one colleague had been ordered by the police to sign a document explicitly saying the journalist would never again report on the so-called Jasmine Revolution in China; the journalist refused.

At least four journalists have reported what appeared to be the hacking of their gmail accounts, according to the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China.


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