Don’t speak out of turn

If true, this leak to Reporters Without Borders is a revealing insight into a totalitarian mindset:

Reporters Without Borders has obtained a classified memo from Chinese sources that sets out the behaviour that government officials should adopt with foreign journalists before and during the Beijing Olympic Games. It tells them to display openness but also to try to control and influence the international media’s coverage.

“While introducing more flexible rules for foreign journalists in January 2007, the Chinese authorities also established a nationwide policy for supervising and influencing the international media,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Parts of this classified memo show there is a real concern to provide better information to foreign journalists, but it also reveals that the authorities never abandoned their intention to censor the news.”

The press freedom organisation added: “While the Olympic flame is on its way to Beijing, we call on the International Olympic Committee to condemn any attempt by the Chinese authorities to obstruct the work of foreign journalists. The practices revealed by this document contradict the Chinese government’s undertaking in 2001 to allow complete press freedom.”

Dating from 2007 and entitled “Working recommendations for reinforcing management efficiency after the ’Rules for interviews by foreign journalists during the Beijing Olympic Games and their preparatory period’ take effect,” the memo obtained by Reporters Without Borders consists of instructions from the national authorities to those in charge of a province (including the local propaganda department and public security) on how to handle public relations and control press coverage.

Meanwhile, Chinese public opinion is predominantly against Tibet.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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