Beijing has accused the BBC of broadcasting “false news” about last week’s devastating floods in central China’s Henan Province.
State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement that the United States was “deeply concerned” by the harassment and intimidation of foreign journalists covering the tragic floods in China. Agence France-Presse reported on Friday.
His comments came less than 24 hours after Beijing accused the BBC of sending “false news” about last week’s devastating floods in central China’s Henan Province, and the British broadcaster said its journalists had been subjected to hostilities.
“The United States is deeply concerned about the increased surveillance, harassment, and intimidation of American and other foreign journalists in the People’s Republic of China, including foreign journalists covering the damage and loss of life caused by the recent floods in Henan,” Price said in a statement.
“The People’s Republic of China government says it welcomes foreign media and supports their work, but their actions are different,” Price said.
On Thursday, former Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian described the fake BBC news broadcaster, which “attacks and slanders China, in a severe deviation from the ethical standards of journalism”.
The BBC said its reporters about the floods came under “severe criticism online”, while other media outlets were immediately harassed and witnessed “attacks that continue to threaten foreign journalists”.
They had to delete the photos
The BBC reported last week’s flooding in Zhengzhou, in which 14 people died and more than 500 passengers were stranded on a flooded city subway during rush hour. The disaster occurred at a time of heightened sensitivity to China’s negative portrayal.
Hostile Zhengzhou residents forced AFP reporters to erase the footage and cornered dozens of men when they reported the flooded traffic tunnel.
A spokesman for Zhao said Thursday that foreign journalists “enjoy an open and free news environment in China.”
However, organizations to protect journalists say the space for foreign journalists to work is deteriorating and narrowing, for example, persecuting journalists in the streets, experiencing online harassment, and denying visas to authorities.
Price, in a statement Thursday, called on China not to restrict journalists’ entry to the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.
“We call on the People’s Republic of China to act as a responsible country. At the same time, we hope it will welcome the foreign media and the world to the Winter Olympics and the Winter Paralympic Games in Beijing in 2022,” he added.
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