Foreign journalists and media monitoring groups have cautiously
welcomed China's extension of relaxed rules for foreign journalists.
Beijing-based Foreign Correspondents' Club of China welcomed the new
recognition of foreign reporters' rights to travel where they wish
without prior permission and to interview anyone who is willing.
Club president Jonathan Watts urged the Chinese government to ensure that local officials and police respect the new rules.
a statement released late Friday, the club also called for China to
enact legislation protecting journalists' sources and to open areas
like Tibet that remain restricted.
Hours before the temporary
rules were due to expire, China's Foreign Ministry announced Friday
that media freedoms granted to foreign journalists ahead of the Beijing
Olympic Games will become permanent.
During a press conference
announcing the new rules, the Voice of America asked if there were any
additional rules regulating foreign journalists. The VOA reporter told
Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao that authorities in Yunnan
province cited internal regulations to justify interfering with his
reporting ahead of the Olympics. Liu denied that any such undisclosed
The Foreign Correspondents' Club of China
said it had received reports of 336 complaints of interference since
the rules were introduced in January 2007, including 67 cases of
harassment and intimidation during the Games.
In New York, the Committee to Protect Journalists urged China to extend the rules to cover Chinese journalists.