China defends controls on foreign media
Mar 1, 2011, 10:03 GMT
Beijing - China defended its controls on foreign media on Tuesday two days after police detained at least 16 journalists to prevent them from reporting an anti-government protest.
'Some journalists did not follow relevant procedures,' Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said after Sunday's detentions, most of which were near Beijing's Wangfujing shopping street.
'The Beijing police properly handled the incident at Wangfujing.'
The street was one of dozens of sites identified by online calls for weekly 'jasmine rallies' against the government in Chinese cities.
Jiang said foreign journalists should cooperate with authorities and conduct 'law-abiding and reasonable reporting'
'We hope journalists report news rather than create news,' she said.
Jiang said police were investigating the beating of a Bloomberg journalist at Wangfujing and would 'properly handle the case.'
Paris-based Reporters Without Borders condemned the 'thuggish attitude of the police officers who used force and violence against the journalists' in Beijing on Sunday.
'The incidents clearly reflect the government's concern to prevent the circulation of any photos or videos of protests so that others are not inspired to follow suit,' the group said.
China introduced more liberal regulations for foreign journalists before the Beijing Olympics in 2008, in principle allowing them to interview anyone who accepts a request.
But police and officials still try to dissuade some Chinese citizens from talking to foreign media or urge them to avoid sensitive topics.
Most registered Chinese journalists face strict rules and censorship of their reports by editors of state media. Rights groups said they had gained nothing from the new rules for foreign media.
Statements claiming to be from organizers of the protests have called for a third week of non-confrontational 'strolling' protests on Sunday.
There was no sign of any open protest on Sunday in Wangfujing, where hundreds of uniformed and plainclothes police patrolled.
A crowd of up to 2,000 people gathered at the designated protest site near Shanghai's Peace Cinema, where several people were arrested.