Foreign journalists and media monitoring groups have cautiously welcomed China's
extension of relaxed rules for foreign journalists.
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
In 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
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.