The reporting environment for foreign journalists is proving hostile in China, according to the Foreign Correspondents' Club of China's annual Working Conditions Survey.
Intimidation of sources and local staff, growing harassment and obstruction are major challenges for journalists conducting their work, says the FCCC based in Beijing.
The annual Working Conditions survey conducted by the Foreign Correspondents´ Club of China finds an alarming new form of harassment against reporters, some of whom have been called into unspecified meetings by China's State Security Bureau. They survey also finds an increase in use of force and manhandling by authorities against journalists performing their work.
This year, 98% of respondents said reporting conditions rarely meet international standards, with 29% saying conditions have deteriorated. Harassment, detention and questioning of sources remains worryingly common, with 26% of respondents reporting such activity, while 57% of correspondents said they personally had been subjected to some form of interference, harassment or violence while attempting to report in China.
33% of respondents said their news assistants had been harassed or pressured by government officials in some way, a slight increase from last year. Some correspondents reported news assistants quitting over a perceived negative reporting bias against China and the Communist Party.
Vast areas of the country still remain inaccessible to foreign reporters. Those who took part in government-sponsored trips to Tibet and Tibetan areas expressed mixed satisfaction about the degree of access obtained. It is still largely impossible for foreign journalists to report from Tibet, Tibetan areas or Xinjiang without incurring serious interference.
The general climate for reporting in China deteriorated over the last year, respondents said. Many denounced pressure exerted on organizations and academia, and cited growing difficulties in securing interviews with sources and experts.
Some major events have triggered manhandling and the use of force against journalists performing their work, including at the trial for lawyer Pu Zhiqiang and at demonstrations in Wukan.
18% of respondents said they had seen signs of Chinese pressure on editors at their headquarters, a slight decrease from last year.