A crackdown on "fake" reporters in China draws a rebuke
New York, November 12, 2007 - The Chinese government should abandon its
crackdown on so-called "fake" foreign journalists in advance of the 2008
Beijing Olympics, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. CPJ
expressed alarm that the government's plan, which includes amassing records
of thousands of foreign journalists seeking Olympics accreditation, is a
pretext to block critical reporters from covering the Games.
Officials are compiling a database of all reporters allowed to work in
China during the Olympic Games, the official China Daily reported Sunday,
quoting Liu Binjie, minister of the General Administration of Press and
Publication. Eight thousand reporters who will be allowed into Olympic
venues have already been entered into the database, while thousands of
other journalists allowed to work in China during the Games will also be
included, Liu said Sunday. The list will be made available to interviewees,
he said. It was not immediately clear what information will be stored in
the database or how it is being collected.
A spokeswoman for the International Olympic Committee could not be
immediately reached for comment on the Chinese plan. One human rights group
- the China Aid Association - recently reported that the Ministry of Public
Security is circulating instructions to its local bureaus to restrict the
entry of potentially troublesome people, including media employees. The
government has not officially confirmed the existence of the directive.
"The Olympics cannot continue to be used an excuse for restricting press
freedom in China," said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. "Allegations of
'fake' reporting are a transparent justification for extending the Chinese
government's strict control of press coverage, in violation of all their
promises to the contrary. We call on the government to institute the
absolute freedom of the press that was guaranteed when the Games were
The government launched a campaign in August against what it called "phony"
domestic journalists. The effort, now expanded to include foreigners, will
be extended until March, according to the Xinhua News Agency. The
government claims to have detected 150 fake reporters and 300 unregistered
publications so far, according to China Daily. A national hotline is
soliciting allegations of illegal journalism, newspapers or news reports.
Domestically, CPJ research shows, a small criminal industry has emerged in
which people have fabricated press cards, presented themselves falsely as
reporters, and extorted money from subjects in exchange for "withholding"
embarrassing or negative information. The scope of the issue has not been
independently determined; no cases involving foreigners have been publicly
In the run-up to the Games, China has failed to meet its promises to allow
free and unfettered news coverage, CPJ found in the special report,
"Falling Short," (
http://www.cpj.org/Briefings/2007/Falling_Short/China/index.html ) issued
in August. In the 79-page report, CPJ found that Chinese leaders have
maintained a vast censorship system, imprisoned dozens of journalists, and
harassed many more.
CPJ is a New York-based, independent, nonprofit organization that works to
safeguard press freedom worldwide. For more information, visit