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  • Incident Reports | 29 January, 2015 (16:17)

    Plaincloths prevent reporting

    Hebei, Tangshan, 29.1 2015

    Incidence occured on G1 highway between Beijing and Tangshan and in Tangshan city

    We had made arrangements to follow an environmental NGO who operates around Tangshan in Hebei province. They monitor levels of PM 2.5 particulate around several heavy industrial sites, among them a large steel plant named Guofong Steel. We also had an appointment to see several villagers living nearby one of the plants who have severe health problems because of the local pollution level near the sites. We met 5 activists from the NGO at 08am on Jan 29 in north Beijing and drove together towards Tangshan in two cars. On the G1 highway we quickly realized we were being tailed by at least two cars. We stopped for a coffee break at a petrol station along the G1 and the two cars pulled over as well. There were in all four men in the cars, at least one of them covered his face with a red hoodie. They did not attempt to make contact, but stayed close by and watched us. Our NGO contacts were at this point already uneasy. We reached the backside of the Guofong Steel plant and filmed the site and the plumes of thick smoke. We started interviewing our NGO contact when two men approached and spoke loudly in their mobile phone. They said in Chinese: “They are by the river, on the back side of the plant. We have found them”. They kept close enough to be able to listen to the interview. Our source at this point got very nervous and changed his lines. We decided it was time to leave, as the men had obviously called in our position to someone else. The activists took us to a Kentucky Fried Chicken in Tangshan town for lunch. As we entered the restaurant, we were followed by at least 6 undercover agents inside the restaurant. We decided to split, and the NGO team and us sat at different tables. The plainclothes came quite close and took several pictures with their mobile phones of us in a fairly obvious fashion. As we ordered food, one of the officers got in line directly behind us, and overheard our conversations. He then stepped away and took several pictures of us with his mobile phone. Our NGO contact now decided it was too risky to continue, and that we would anyway not be able to continue with our visit to the village as the villagers would be intimidated by this large undercover presence. Our NGO contacts also decided they did not want to be filmed or interviewed any more, and at one point some of them started pretending like they didn’t know us. We had no choice but to return to Beijing without completing our reporting.

    (Norwegian TV Correspondent)