The Chinese government should extend without limitation the temporary Olympics-related regulations that guarantee reporting freedoms for foreign media, and apply them to Chinese journalists, Human Rights Watch said today. The regulations are set to expire on October 17, 2008.
The temporary regulations were adopted in January 2007 as part of the Chinese government’s commitments to improve its human rights record, a key aspect of its 2001 bid to win the 2008 Summer Olympics. Human Rights Watch has documented the flawed implementation of these regulations, which were supposed to give foreign journalists greater freedom to travel and interview people across China, in two reports detailing the abuses and harassment of foreign correspondents.
Chinese government officials who have suggested that the regulations may be extended past October 17 include State Information Office Minister Cai Wu, who said in December 2007 that, “If practice shows that the regulation will help the international community to know China better, then it is a good policy in accordance with the country’s reforms and opening up.” Asked on October 7, 2008, about the likelihood of the regulations being extended, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Qin Gang stated: “China’s principle of opening up stays unchanged [after the Olympics]. … Foreign media and journalists are welcome to report in China as always.”
“While there were serious problems in implementing Olympics-related media freedom regulations, they did mark a new and much higher standard in Chinese law for reporting freedom,” said Sophie Richardson, Asia advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. “But keeping the regulations in effect and extending them to Chinese journalists would be one of the most important legacies of the Games.”
For more of Human Rights Watch’s work on media freedom in China, please see the following:
- • October 11, 2008 op-ed by Phelim Kine in The Wall Street Journal, “Censorship Isn’t Good for China’s Health,” at:
• August 2007 report, “‘You Will Be Harassed and Detained’: China Media Freedoms Under Assault Ahead of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games,” at:
• July 2008 report, “China’s Forbidden Zones: Shutting the Media Out of Tibet and Other ‘Sensitive’ Stories ,” at: