Journalist death threats in China

The Foreign Correspondents Club of China released a statement today condemning online death threats received by at least ten foreign correspondents in China following a campaign on the web and in the state-run media following media coverage of protests in Tibet. Melinda Lui, President of the FCCC, talks about the threats in Newsweek Magazine today. Below is the statement condemning the threats,

April 30, 2008 — One hundred days before the Olympics, death threats against foreign correspondents and official statements demonizing Western media risk creating a hostile environment for foreign journalists based in China and for tens of thousands of additional media planning to cover the Games, says the Foreign Correspondents Club of China (FCCC).
At least ten foreign correspondents in China have received anonymous death threats during a campaign, on the Web and in state-run media, against alleged bias in Western media coverage of the Tibetan unrest and its aftermath.
The introduction of Olympics regulations allowing free travel and interviewing in China by foreign media between January 2007 and October 2008 represented an improvement in reporting conditions. However since March 14, the FCCC has learned of more than 50 incidents of interference in the work of international media trying to report in Tibetan communities. Foreign correspondents have been detained, prevented from conducting interviews, searched, and subjected to the confiscation or destruction of reporting materials. Authorities have intimidated Chinese sources and staff, and in some cases ordered them to inform on foreign correspondents’ activities.
“If allowed to continue, the reporting interference and hate campaigns targeting international media may poison the pre-Games atmosphere for foreign journalists,” says FCCC President Melinda Liu. “We urge government authorities to investigate the death threats, which violate Chinese law, and otherwise help create an environment in keeping with their Olympic promises.”
It’s not too late to improve conditions. The FCCC also urges:
– Nationwide implementation of the Olympic reporting regulations, including full media access to Tibet and Tibetan areas in the provinces of Sichuan, Gansu, Qinghai and Yunnan.
– Investigation of reports of official harassment of foreign media.
– Timely issuance of press visas to foreign media planning to report in China during the Olympics period.
– Improved government transparency, especially in Olympics-related departments*.
– Guarantees that Chinese nationals who speak to foreign media will not be punished or intimidated.
– An early pledge to extend the current foreign media reporting regulations after they expire on Oct. 17, 2008.
The FCCC fully supports Beijing’s Olympics action plan, made public in 2002, to “be open in every aspect to the rest of the country and the whole world” and to “follow international standards and criteria” in the period before and during the 2008 Games. We urge Beijing to make good on these commitments at the earliest possible date.
The Foreign Correspondents Club of China
April 30, 2008 link

On the Newsweek blog the FCCC also quote six reporters who complain of restrictions they face in trying to find out information and gain access to sportsmen and women in the run up to the Beijing Olympics.