That Time Is Almost Upon Us

It’s that time of the year, when plainclothes policemen outnumber ISB students in Sanlitun. This from the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China via China watchers on Twitter:

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Never mind, for the moment, the merit of Tiananmen vox pox in Sanlitun. We’re two days away from the 25th anniversary of that incident, and everyone is on edge. Careful out there.

UPDATE, 7:29 pm: The full email from the FCCC:

The FCCC condemns the increasing harassment and intimidation of overseas media and their local staff by Chinese authorities in an apparent effort to block reporting about the 25th anniversary of the military crackdown on Tiananmen Square.

The FCCC is deeply concerned that correspondents and their local staff have been summoned by Public Security officers to their office to be given videotaped lectures dissuading them from reporting on the anniversary. Some of the journalists were warned of serious consequences should they disobey the authorities.

This effort to deter news coverage is a gross violation of Chinese government rules governing foreign correspondents, which expressly permit them to interview anybody who consents to be interviewed.

The FCCC calls on the Chinese government and police to halt their harassment of foreign reporters and to abide by their own rules concerning the international media.

Examples of harassment:
“We showed the iconic photo of “Tank-Man” (a civilian who stood in front of a tank during the military crackdown on June 4th 1989) to people on the street in Sanlitun and tried to interview them about the events 25 years ago.
After 10 minutes police showed up and stopped our reporting. They ordered us into their police car and brought us to Sanlitun police station. They told us they had orders from PSB to do so. After one hour PSB officers showed up and interrogated us. They searched my handbag against my will. They took out the photos, put them in front of us and filmed the photos with us in the background. They took away two business cards of my contacts and photocopied them. We had to hand over the chip from our camera, which had no images on it. They separated us and questioned us for hours while video taping everything. The officer said: “You were speaking about a sensitive topic. You know that the topic is sensitive and the government don’t want people to speak about it.” I asked which Chinese law I broke. He answered: “It’s not a matter of law. It’s a matter of culture. The culture is above the law.”  They brought us back to the corner where we did our interviews. We had to show them where we interviewed people. They videotaped us showing the places. They kept our press cards and ordered us to come to the PSB the next day. We were released at around 9pm after six hours of interrogation.
The next day at the PSB two officers questioned us while another one was videoing. They accused us of “disturbance of public order”. We had to go in front of a video camera and they recorded our statements. We had to admit that we did something “very sensitive” which could cause “disturbance” and  we had to promise not to do what we are accused of in the next days. We got our press cards back and were warned that next time police will keep the press cards and our visas will be canceled.”

– French Broadcaster

“We were reporting on the strict security in central Beijing ahead of the June 4th anniversary.  In a span of two hours, police asked me for my documents five times. The next day two policemen came into my flat, which also serves as my office. They came with two women, who didn´t wear uniform. These women recorded my house with some mobile phones while the police asked us for documentation. The police said the documentation was for internal use.”
– European broadcaster

“I was called to the (police) Entry and Exit Bureau (which issues visas), and basically told this year security will be specially strict during the “sensitive period”, in “sensitive areas”, and with “sensitive interviews” related to the June 4thanniversary. They asked me to convey this to the bureau chief and other journalists in our bureau. They said that this is a second warning for me personally, and if I do not abide Chinese law, I should ‘expect the most serious consequences.”
– North American Media

“I found it very difficult to interview people this year regarding June fourth anniversary. Several well-known intellectuals, including people who are not considered dissidents, refused to be interviewed. They expressed concern for their own freedom or fear they would not be allowed to travel or to continue their work. Two had already been approached and specifically told not to give interviews on the topic. I had to cancel one interview in person the day before the meeting, since the interviewee told me the police was showing up to every appointment. The person later confirmed that the police showed up at the entrance of the compound as well as at the door at the time we were supposed to meet, and left only after been told I wasn’t going.”
– TV Correspondent

    6 Responses to “That Time Is Almost Upon Us”

    1. Joe

      When state-sanctioned killing is done wrong it becomes a permanent thorn in the backside of the state (6.4).

      When state-sanctioned killing is done right it becomes a permanent rallying call in support of the state (9/11).

    2. Victor

      This is pathetic. Non-Chinese journos should have more than enough things to report rather than drudging up China’s past. Why don’t they go to the US to report on the anniversary of Ruby Ridge or Kent State?

      • Brido

        I noticed the distinct lack of interest in the Republic of Korea’s 25th anniversary of the Gwangju Massacre during 2005, too.

        Of course, suggesting there’s an agenda at work is pure paranoia. It’s just plain old-fashioned laziness.

      • RhZ

        However, if they would like to report on Japan’s historical crimes against China, even from over 80 or even 100 years ago, that would be just fine. Can’t forget those!

        Look, the Chinese people don’t care about this event from history! That’s why the government is harassing and arresting so many people right now, don’t you see? Its because no one really cares.

      • Claus Rasmussen

        This tiresome rhetorical trick that you can’t discuss something because something else is more important works every time, unless the subject is Global Nuclear War or the fast approaching end of the Universe. Grrrr…

        It is the 25th “anniversary” this year. It is only natural that it become a subject of Western journalism, and if the journalists can’t interview common people, they’ll create stories about why they can’t interview common people. It is how Western journalism works, like it or not.

    3. RhZ

      The culture is above the law, is it now!

      That’s not the only thing that is above the law. The party, the rich, the police, the secret police, the torturers, the cheng guan…I could go on, but what’s the point?

      This is the second cultural revolution, and there is no law.


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