News / Asia

US Ambassador Decries Chinese Abuse of Journalists

Unidentified men surround a foreign journalist who was pushed to the ground on Wangfujing Street after calls for a anti-government rally in  Beijing, Feb. 27, 2011
Unidentified men surround a foreign journalist who was pushed to the ground on Wangfujing Street after calls for a anti-government rally in Beijing, Feb. 27, 2011

The U.S. ambassador in China lashed out at Beijing Monday, protesting a violent crackdown on foreign journalists covering a thwarted pro-democracy rally in the capital.

Ambassador Jon Huntsman called the detention and beating of the foreign press “unacceptable and deeply disturbing.” He is urging the Chinese government to hold the perpetrators accountable and respect the rights of foreign journalists in the country. Huntsman issued his statement after meeting with journalists roughed up by Chinese secret police the day before.

Reporters from the Voice of America, Bloomberg, the New York Times, the BBC and CNN were among the press who gathered Sunday to observe a so-called “Jasmine Revolution.”

Online activists organizing the rallies are hoping to mimic the unrest that has overturned authoritarian governments in Egypt and Tunisia. But with the heavy police presence, the activists stayed away and the journalists became the news.

US Ambassador Decries Chinese Abuse of Journalists
US Ambassador Decries Chinese Abuse of Journalists

VOA Beijing Bureau Chief Stephanie Ho was temporarily detained in the crackdown, but managed to keep her video of the incident. Here’s her first-person account:

“I was out at Wangfujing Street across from the McDonald’s, which is where the online protest calls were supposed to be set. I was there probably with most of the foreign journalist corps in Beijing and as soon as I got my video camera out, there were guys blocking the lens.

They wouldn’t let me shoot and the street sweepers kept pushing me away. And then it was almost as if on cue, about four or five plainclothes police officers just sort of came out of the crowd, and all of a sudden I didn’t even know what was happening and they were pushing me. They were shoving me and they kind of knocked the camera down and they shoved me en masse inside a little shop.

Police removed five men gathering at a planned protest site in Shanghai.

Watch Stephanie Ho's Report:

A uniformed guy actually came in with us, and he sort of wedged himself between me and the guy who I thought was maybe going to hit me. I just kept hearing him say, 'Don’t hit women, don’t hit women.' I just instinctively knew that I had to get out of there, and so I just pushed everybody and I forced my way outside back to the street. I was grabbed as soon as I got out to the street by three guys and they dragged me away down the alley to the police van.

They drove me to a police station and asked me to sit and wait in an anteroom. I think there was some confusion because I look Chinese, so they thought I was Chinese. Then they saw my I.D. and they said, 'Oh, wait, you’re Voice of America, does that mean you’re American or Chinese?' I think they realized they had brought me to the wrong station, so then after about 15 minutes, they brought me to another place, a sort of makeshift office called the Wangfujing Area Construction and Management Office, which nobody had heard of before.

They said, 'If you’re going to be on Wangfujing Street, you need our permission.' They said I needed permission to interview people, and I told them I wasn’t interviewing people, I just went to see what was going on.

Raw video of police action in China:

I don’t think there were any Chinese journalists there. If they went, they were well undercover. All the foreign journalists I know were called this past weekend and were warned not to go. I was called by someone who said she was a public security authoritiy, and we don’t know from which office. We tried to call the number back, and someone answered the phone and said somebody must have been using the phone to make phone calls. It’s all very vague and amorphous.

"I took part Monday afternoon in a meeting of foreign journalists at the U.S. ambassador’s office with the German ambassador and the European Union ambassador to discuss what happened yesterday. There were European journalists who had problems, and there were American journalists who had problems. This was definitely a stronger show of force than I’ve seen. There was a sense that it was concerted. There was a sense that it was organized.

And so the result is that 16 news agencies reported having problems, nine actually reported physical problems where they were either beaten or push or shoved.  My colleague from Bloomberg was beaten quite badly. They dragged him around, they punched and kicked him. There were a lot of similarities with his experience and what I experienced.

Looking back on it, I’m thinking there might be some logic to the argument that the crackdown was to set an example for foreign journalists that this could happen to you if you come out again next time."

You May Like

Isolation, Despair Weigh on Refugees in Remote German Camp

Refugees resettled near village of Holzdorf deep in German forestland say there is limited interaction with public, mutual feelings of distrust

Britons Divided Over Bombing IS

Surveys show Europeans generally support more military action against Islamic State militants, but sizable opposition exists in Britain

Russia Blacklists Soros Foundations as 'Undesirable'

Russian officials add Soros groups to a list of foreign and international organizations banned from giving grants to Russian partners

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?i
Carol Pearson
November 29, 2015 1:23 PM
The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle reports from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs