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Space for independent reporting from China has shrunk, says expert

ANI | Updated: Aug 20, 2021 14:22 IST

Beijing [China], August 20 (ANI): The space for independent reporting from China has shrunk with Beijing applying it's abrasive and confrontationist werewolf diplomacy attitude even to the foreign journalists, said Fabien Baussart, President of Center of Political and Foreign Affairs (CPFA).
In an opinion piece in Times of Israel, Baussart said that foreign journalists covering the latest floods faced backlash from the city's angry residents.
Last month, Chinese state media hit out at foreign media for their coverage of floods in Chinese cities. Following which 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 died in a train carriage amid the flooding.
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.
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".
Baussart said that the intimidation of foreign journalists has also been accompanied by strict censorship rules on Chinese media to report on the Henan floods.
According to China Digital Times, Chinese media were ordered only to report "authoritative information" about casualties and property damage and instructed not to "take an exaggeratedly sorrowful tone or hype or draw connections to past events" without permission. Articles not following these guidelines were removed.
Noting that the "space for independent reporting from China has shrunk", Baussart citing the annual report of the Foreign Correspondents' Club of China (FCCC), which pointed out an intensified crackdown against foreign journalists operating in China.
In the past 18 months, at least 16 US journalists have been expelled, and at least four journalists - including the BBC's John Sudworth and two Australian journalists - were forced to flee. Two others - Australian TV anchor Cheng Lei and Chinese Bloomberg journalist Haze Fan - were arrested and detained on undefined national security accusations.
The Chinese government has also withheld their replacements as it has put on hold visa approvals.
"Clearly, China is applying its werewolf diplomacy attitude - abrasive and confrontationist - even to the foreigners working in China. But as discontent grows among its citizens over misgovernance, corruption and political restrictions, it is bound to burst out," he said. (ANI)