The World Association of Newspapers and World Editors Forum have written to Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao to welcome the relaxation of media regulations for foreign journalists and to ask that the government “take further steps to uphold international standards of press freedom.”
China recently extended rules that allow foreign journalists greater freedom to travel in the country without prior government permission, and to talk to anyone who is willing to be interviewed.
But the rules, which were introduced for the Olympics and extended on 17 October, do not include domestic journalists and do not address fundamental rights.
“For example, there is no protection of news sources, it is not possible to report freely on Tibet and hotels are obliged to report the arrival of a foreign journalist to police,” the letter said. “Furthermore, with more than 30 journalists and at least 50 cyber reporters imprisoned, China jails more journalists than any other country.”
The letter called for the new regulations to be extended to domestic journalists, for the release of all jailed journalists, and for the introduction of further reforms. The full letter can be read here.
WAN and WEF had previously written to Premier Wen on 7 October asking that the relaxation of media regulations for foreign journalists be extended. The rules would have expired on 17 October if the authorities had not decided to extend them.
The Paris-based WAN, the global organisation of the world’s press, is encouraging newspapers and other media world-wide to join the campaign for more press freedom in China by publishing new advertisements that highlight Chinese repression and call on authorities to allow more freedom of expression.
WAN defends and promotes press freedom and the professional and business interests of newspapers world-wide. Representing 18,000 newspapers, its membership includes 77 national newspaper associations, newspaper companies and individual newspaper executives in 102 countries, 12 news agencies and 11 regional and world-wide press groups.