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

US States Where Women Work for Free

Women earn less than men in all 50 states More

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

At a recent even in Seoul, border communities promoted benefits of increased cooperation and North Korean defectors shared stories of life since the war More

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: Iraq President Vows Fight to Death Against IS

In wide-ranging interview, Fuad Masum describes new type of fight that will take time to win More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
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.
Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs