FCCC statement on harassment of reporters in Chengdu

Mar 1, 2024

The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China is extremely disturbed by the treatment of Dutch journalists during a recent reporting trip in Chengdu. This incident comes amid widespread reports from FCCC members of increasing harassment and obstruction across China, as they try to fulfil their legally-protected role to report on the country.

Video from Dutch broadcaster NOS shows their correspondent being shoved to the ground and his bag taken from him by a man who later identified himself as a police officer, while the journalists were attempting to cover a demonstration outside a bank.

According to the NOS correspondent, he was subsequently surrounded by both plainclothes and uniformed police, who pushed him to the ground again and manhandled his cameraman, preventing him from continuing to record the incident. The correspondent repeatedly identified himself as a foreign journalist and showed his government-issued press ID.

Both he and his cameraman were eventually forced into a police car and taken to a local police station. Their phones and cameras were taken from them.

At the station, officers refused to allow the NOS correspondent to make a phone call and told him and his colleague to wait for officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

After several hours, with the assistance of MOFA representatives, the Dutch journalists were released from police custody, but when they left the station, they were tailed by multiple cars, further disrupting their reporting.

Under Chinese law, foreign journalists are entitled to unfettered access to report in China. In this case, the NOS team was attempting to cover a demonstration by customers and investors outside Sichuan Trust, a bank whose recent business problems have been covered by Chinese media.

In the past year, FCCC members have reported numerous incidents of similar harassment and obstruction while trying to report across China. We call on the authorities to uphold their own promises and protect the safety and right to report of all foreign journalists working in the country.