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Chinese nationals harass foreign correspondents over coverage of Henan floods

ANI | Updated: Jul 26, 2021 11:24 IST


Beijing [China], July 26 (ANI): After Chinese state-media hit out at foreign media for their coverage of floods in Chinese cities, citizens harrassed correspondents for several international media outlets on the streets of Zhengzhou city of Henan province over the weekend.
According to a report in Hong Kong Free Press, the Chinese social media platform Weibo was filled with angry posts criticising the coverage of foreign correspondents as Chinese cities witnessed heavy downpours and floodings.
The criticism was mainly aimed at BBC's China Correspondent Robin Brant for a report that questioned government policies after a dozen people die in a train carriage amid the flooding.
"We don't know why they were left so vulnerable," Brant said in a report last Friday, adding that Beijing had warned other local governments to examine their own preparedness and metro regulations.
Chinese social media users accused Bant on the Twitter-like Weibo platform of being a "rumour-mongering foreigner" and "seriously distorting the facts" in his reports on the flooding.
"BBC reporter Robin Brant has appeared in disaster-stricken areas of our city many times and has seriously distorted the facts. If you find this person, please call the police immediately," one post on Saturday read.
The next day, Beijing Bureau Chief for the LA Times Alice Su and Deutsche Welle's China correspondent Mathias Boelinger were surrounded by an angry crowd who mistakenly believed Boelinger to be Brant.

"They kept pushing me yelling that I was a bad guy and that I should stop smearing China. One guy [tried] to snatch my phone," Boelinger tweeted following the incident.
"You should have a positive view on China!" one man told Boelinger, a video circulating on Weibo showed.
Correspondents for Al Jazeera and the Associated Press also tweeted about being harassed by crowds, who took videos of them and called the authorities.
Al Jazeera's Katrina Yu tweeted that the incidents were a "sad sign of increasing anger and suspicion towards foreign media in China."
"They kept pushing me yelling that I was a bad guy and that I should stop smearing China. One guy [tried] to snatch my phone," Boelinger tweeted following the incident.
"You should have a positive view on China!" one man told Boelinger, a video circulating on Weibo showed.
The incidents came as state-owned Global Times chided foreign media reports that the floods had shattered the "myth" of Zhengzhou as a "sponge city" after the government in 2018 invested RMB$50 billion [HK$60 billion] in infrastructure to protect the city from severe flooding.
"Chinese observers refuted the reports, noting that these media reiterated the loss, but neglected one fact, that the floods in Fis a once-in-a-century occasion and beyond any city's bearing capacity," the Global Times article read. "They noted that the Zhengzhou government has made its best efforts to limit the loss." (ANI)

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