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Still hard to get the news

The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China (Beijing) has produced the findings of its annual survey on working conditions for its members. The FCC (Hong Kong) is happy to pass this on as a service to the media community, but any views expressed are not necessarily shared by the FCC (Hong Kong). You can read the full report via the FCC’s website.

China’s importance in current affairs continues to grow, and foreign journalists’ efforts to chronicle the important events and changes have kept pace., the FCCC’s report states. Unfortunately, getting access to the news in China is not getting any easier. Official harassment, obstruction and intimidation of foreign correspondents and their local staff remain serious problems.

Over the past year, foreign leaders and diplomats continued to raise the issue of foreign media press freedoms at the highest levels of the Chinese government, but with no detectable result.

China’s Foreign Ministry has for years offered assurances that working conditions are improving and will continue to do so.

In the survey, 96% of respondents say working conditions for foreign journalists in China almost never meet international standards; 44% say working conditions are about the same as last year; 33% say they deteriorated. None of the 117 respondents said conditions had improved.

This represents a negligible improvement over last year’s survey.

The FCCC’s top concerns include: Interference, harassment and physical violence by authorities against foreign media during the reporting process; attempts by authorities to pre-empt and discourage coverage of sensitive subjects; intimidation and harassment of sources; restrictions on journalists’ movements in border and ethnic-minority regions; staged press conferences; pressure directed to editors and managers at headquarters outside of China; and surveillance and censorship

The FCCC conducted a separate survey on visa issues earlier this year and general found the visa renewal process went more smoothly this year than last, although the Chinese authorities are continuing to abuse the press card and visa renewal process in a political manner.

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